Japanese researchers find microplastics in clouds: are they dangerous for humans?

TIME.CO, Jakarta – Japanese researchers have published a study on the presence of microplastics in clouds. Hiroshi Okochi, a professor at Waseda University who leads a group of Japanese researchers, explored the route microplastics in the air as these objects circulate in the biosphere.

Furthermore, the presence of microplastics can have a negative impact on human health and the climate. “Microplastics in the troposphere are freely transported and contribute to global pollution,” Okochi said, posted on the Waseda University website, Sept. 27, 2023.

He hopes the problem of plastic air pollution will be managed proactively. If this is not done, climate change and ecological risks could become a reality, causing serious and irreversible environmental damage in the future.

To study the role of these tiny plastic particles in the troposphere and atmospheric boundary layer, the team collected cloud water from the summits of Mount Fuji and Mount Oyama, areas ranging from 1,300 to 3,776 meters above sea level. Using advanced imaging techniques, such as attenuated total reflection imaging and micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (µFTIR ATR imaging), the researchers determined the presence of microplastics in cloud water and examined their physical and chemicals.

As a result, the researchers were able to identify nine different types of polymers and one type of rubber in the detected airborne microplastics. The diameter of this ferret AMP ranges from 7.1 to 94.6 µm, the smallest observed in the free troposphere.

Each liter of cloud water tested contained between 6.7 and 13.9 pieces of plastic, according to Aljazeera. Microplastics – defined as plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in size from industrial waste, textiles, synthetic car tires, personal care products and other sources – have been found in fish, scattered on Arctic sea ice and in snow Pyrenees. mountains. between France and Spain.


However, the mechanisms by which microplastics are transported to these various locations are still unclear, and research on the transport of microplastics through the air is still limited. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the presence of airborne microplastics in cloud water,” the authors wrote in the report.

Waseda University said in a statement Wednesday that research shows that microplastics are ingested or inhaled by humans and animals and have been detected in various organs such as the lungs, heart, blood, placenta and feces. “Ten million tonnes of this plastic waste ends up in the ocean, released as seawater spray and carried into the atmosphere,” the university said in announcing the results of its new research.

This suggests that microplastics may have become a major component of the cloud, contaminating almost everything we eat and drink through “plastic rain.” Emerging evidence has also linked microplastics to a range of impacts on heart and lung health cancerin addition to widespread environmental damage.

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