A Study Finds that The Microplastics that Fall on Auckland Weigh as Much as 3 Million Plastic Bottles per Year.

3 Million Plastic Bottles per Year.

Researchers at the University of Auckland have discovered that each year, roughly 74 million metric tonnes of microplastics fall over Auckland, New Zealand. Over 3 million plastic water bottles’ worth of weight in microplastics are present.

The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, examined samples that were taken over a period of nine weeks in two locations in Auckland from September 2020 to November 2020. According to the findings, one square meter contained an average of 4,885 airborne microplastics in just one day. In comparison, Hamburg had roughly 275 in 2019, London had over 771 as of 2020, and Paris had an average of 110 in 2016.

The researchers hypothesize that waves in the Hauraki Gulf may be dispersing more water-borne microplastics into the atmosphere. Researchers found that as the gulf winds picked up the pace, there were more airborne microplastics.

Joel Rindelaub, the study’s principal author, said in a statement that the formation of airborne microplastics from breaking waves “may be a crucial aspect of the global movement of microplastics.” And it might clarify how some microplastics enter the atmosphere and travel to far-off locations like this one in New Zealand.

The crew used funnels in jars that were housed in wooden boxes to collect microplastics that were falling from the sky. The boxes were placed in two different places: one in a home garden in Remuera, a neighborhood about 4 kilometers (2.49 miles) from the city center, and the other atop a rooftop at the university campus in the city’s heart.

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The scientists utilized a heat treatment to determine the overall mass of the microplastics after collecting them. The researchers determined that polyethylene (PE), polycarbonate (PC), and polyethylene terephthalate were the three materials that were most prevalent (PET). Packaging, electronics, and building supplies frequently contain these elements.

The Plastic Health Coalition, which was not affiliated with the study, pointed out that although earlier research has suggested that microplastics may cause DNA damage, oxidative stress, and other health problems, more studies are required to determine the effects of microplastics on both human health and the environment.

The authors of the University of Auckland study claimed that the tiniest nanoparticles may reach human blood cells and accumulate in human organs. Microplastics have been detected in human lungs and blood in other research. According to a study from 2021, human cells could be killed by microplastics in environmental quantities.

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Rindelaub said that other investigations worldwide have probably undercounted these microplastics in the air. The new study is the first to determine the overall amount of airborne microplastics in a city.

Future research must determine just how much plastic we are inhaling, according to Rindelaub. “It’s becoming more and more obvious that this is a significant exposure channel.”

Author: Adam Bertocci

Adam has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. He lived with computers all his life and he works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. Ryan has been working with Enviro 360 now. He likes to swim and play video games as his hobby.

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