A sample study of natural reserves in the United States shows that more than 1,000 tons of microplastics fall into these areas each year through rainfall, which is equivalent to the pollution caused by 120 million plastic bottles scattered in these areas. In addition to the previously known sources of pollution, this study suggests that spray paints and coatings may be the next polluting industry to be purified.
Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and other places in the western United States are among the world's foremost nature reserves with little environmental pollution. But new research has found that pollution from new types of plastic rain has threatened the ecological environment in these areas.
Lead researcher Janice Brahney, an environmental scientist at Utah State University, said: "We just tested the Western Nature Reserve, which only occupies 6% of the United States. The content is already so high, which is amazing."
The study, recently published in the journal Science, collected rainwater and air samples from 11 national parks in the United States within 14 months and found that 98% of the samples contained microplastic particles. 4% of the air particles are synthetic polymers. The polluted particles in the rainwater are larger than the particles propagated by the wind, and the lighter particles are more likely to propagate with the wind.
Studies have shown that 66% of rain particles and 70% of air particles are microfibers from products such as polymer clothing.
The study also found that 30% of the sample particles were microplastic beads, an ingredient that the United States banned from beauty products in 2015. But these microbeads are smaller than those contained in those products.
Researchers estimate that these smaller beads come from products such as industrial paints and coatings. During the spraying process, these microbeads enter the air and spread around with the wind. If this is indeed the case, then the paint industry should be another industry to consider microplastic pollution after the beauty industry. Moreover, even if a country has formulated a product specification is not enough, the pollution produced by any country is global.
Several other recent studies have demonstrated that microplastics have almost reached the level of ubiquitous pollution. They were blown into the air and floated all over the world: microplastic components were found in deep-sea fish bodies, the ice cores of inaccessible Antarctic glaciers, and even the refreshing sea breeze.
Previously, it was thought that microplastics would be deposited on the bottom of the sea when they fell into the sea. New research has found that this is not the case. They are thrown into the air with the waves, brought by the sea breezes everywhere, and actively circulating in the entire ecosystem of the earth.
This new study saw the spread of microplastics from another angle: through rain, it landed in a nature reserve.
The study claims that microplastic rain is more difficult to solve than previously known acid rain caused by emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Ordinary acid rain can be alleviated by adding purifiers to industrial or automobile exhaust emissions. Scientists cannot purify ubiquitous microplastic particles in waters, land and air, unless materials like "plastic magnets" can be found to adsorb microplastic particles. Clean up.
The durability of plastic is precisely its fatal hazard: it cannot be decomposed during its lifetime, and it continues to accumulate and circulate in the environment.
According to data from the consultancy McKinsey, as more people worldwide enter the middle-class consumption level, by 2030, plastic waste will increase from the current 260 million tons per year to 460 million tons.