There is no smell or taste. Scientists have discovered a threat in the daily invisible “downpour”
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Thousands of tiny, invisible particles descend from the sky every day, and scientists seem to have underestimated them.
Microplastics are a large-scale problem of the 21st century that researchers never cease to remind. Every day, a microplastic mist descends from the sky, which contains thousands of tiny particles that fall on the ground and which we inhale, writes Science Alert.
A team of researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand suggests that we are significantly underestimating this daily downpour without color and smell, which goes unnoticed by us. The results of the study show that, on average, about 5,000 microplastic particles settle on every square meter of urban rooftops in Auckland every day.
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Researchers estimate that about 74 metric tons of plastic end up on urban rooftops a year, the equivalent of nearly three million plastic bottles.< /p>
Note that a similar study was already conducted in 2020 in London. Then the researchers claimed that the same area in the UK capital accounts for only 771 microplastic particles. However, this does not necessarily mean that London is six times less polluted than Auckland. Firstly, the location of cities on the geographical map of the world plays an important role, and secondly, today there is no universal way to measure the amount of microplastics that settles on the ground every day. In fact, each group conducts research in a slightly different way.
With each passing year, science advances and scientists have more ways to measure even the smallest particles of microplastics, and accordingly, researchers notice more and more particles lurking in the air.
In their study, scientists from New Zealand observed two areas for 9 weeks – on the roof of one of the university buildings, as well as in the suburbs. Airborne microplastics were captured using a special funnel.
At each of the sites, scientists found the remains of eight different types of plastic. The most popular of them were:
- polyethylene used in the production of bags and bottles;
- polycarbonate used in protective equipment and medical devices;
- polyethylene terephthalate used for the production of food and beverage packaging.
Note that researchers still do not know exactly how microplastics affect our body and what role it plays in heating the Earth. However, it is already known that plastic microparticles enter our blood, lungs and other organs.