Lightweight and non-perishable: airborne plastic particles

However, plastic products thrown into the ocean do not disintegrate, they slowly crumble and become microscopic plastic particles that can cause a serious ecological problem that threatens not only the marine environment but also human health. Put in Scientist at Weisman Institute of Science Recently searched Because these particles flow to distant corners of the ocean – which were thought to be clear and free of human harmful effects – and can be released into the atmosphere and remain in the air for long periods of time and even days.


(Photo: Shutterstock)

“Earlier studies have already shown the presence of microplastics in the atmosphere in areas near the shoreline,” Professor Ilan Koren of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Dr. Asaf Wafi of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences research groups. Miri says Trinik. “We were surprised to discover a significant amount of micro-plastic considered ‘virgin’ in some parts of the sea.”

Professors Verdi and Coren’s research group – along with Prof. Yinon Rudich of the Department of Earth Sciences and Planets – have been collaborating for years in trying to understand the interface between the ocean and the atmosphere. As a part of these research efforts, in 2016, Drs. Mitchell Floors was sent to the North Atlantic on a voyage of the research ship “Tara” and, among other things, particulate samples were collected in the air above these remote areas of the ocean.

Sailing ship "Star".  The measuring device was placed at the top of the queueSailing ship "Star".  The measuring device was placed at the top of the queue

Sailing ship “Tara”. The measuring device was placed at the top of the queue

(Photo: From the American Meteorological Association newspaper)

When the samples arrived at the Weisman Institute of Science, researchers found that it was easy to identify microplastics in the samples. To understand what kind of plastic entered the atmosphere, the researchers introduced faculty scientist Dr. The bird turned to Pincus, an expert in the technology called Raman spectroscopy in the Department of Chemical Research’s infrastructure. Scientists’ values ​​- and which take into account the size of the particles, their mass, wind direction over the ocean and their speed – revealed that the microplastic generated in the samples was probably in plastic bags and other plastic waste was dumped into the coasts. Was thrown over and made a road hundreds of miles into the sea.

A similar composition of plastic particles was detected in seawater samples in those areas. This fact reinforces the hypothesis that microplastic particles enter the atmosphere as a result of spraying sea water or carried by air and transported to distant parts of the ocean by air currents.

Dr. “When microscopic particles are in the air, they dry up, are exposed to UV radiation and have chemical interactions with various atmospheric components,” says Trinik. This means that the particles that go back to the sea are harmful or may also be toxic to marine organisms. them. “Prof. Verdi says:” Plastic in the sea serves as a breeding ground for bacteria. “When the particles are carried into the air, they can be carriers of marine bacteria, including pathogens that can harm both marine organisms and humans.”

More on this topic: the guy who wants to collect microplastics

(Photo: Angle, Science and Environment News Agency)

Scientists estimate that the exact amount of microplastics above the oceans is much larger than that indicated in the measurements, as their systems cannot detect particles below a certain size. Particle size has a lucky meaning: not only are small particles likely to remain in the air for a long time, but are likely to be eaten (but will not be eaten) by small marine organisms, increasing as they become smaller.

“And there is another important ecological aspect: like all particles placed in the air, microplastic particles actually become part of physical cycles in nature – for example the carbon and oxygen cycles,” Proc. Koren says and ends with a pessimistic forecast: “Even though we stop polluting the beaches tomorrow morning, we probably pollute the beaches.” More and more micro-plastic particles are released into the atmosphere. Is going – as it takes time for plastic waste, which has already found its way to spew particles into the ocean. ”

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