TOKYO (Agencies): In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Environmental Chemistry Letters, Japanese scientists have made a concerning discovery: microplastics are now present in clouds.
To investigate this issue, the researchers collected mistwater samples from the summits of Mount Oyama and Mount Fuji, ranging from 1,300 to 3,776 meters in elevation. Advanced imaging techniques revealed the presence of at least nine different types of polymers and one type of rubber in the samples. These microplastics varied in size, ranging from 7.1 to 94.6 micrometers, and were found at concentrations ranging from 6.7 to 13.9 pieces per liter. The identified microplastics included polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, epoxy resin, polyamide 6, ethylene-propylene copolymer or polyethylene polypropylene alloy, and polyurethane.
The discovery marks the first report of airborne microplastics in cloud water, according to scientists. The presence of microplastics in clouds suggests that they have entered the atmosphere, potentially leading to “plastic rainfall” that can contaminate food and water sources.
Additionally, the accumulation of airborne microplastics (AMPs) in the atmosphere may have adverse effects on biodiversity and could be linked to health issues, including cancer, as well as negative impacts on heart and lung health.
The researchers emphasize the importance of addressing the issue of “plastic air pollution” proactively to prevent potential long-term environmental damage and ecological risks, in addition to the ongoing concerns about climate change.