Microplastic Particles From Road Traffic Rides the Wind


A new study, recently published in Nature Communications, describes how microplastics from road traffic are transported to the oceans – and to remote regions such as the Arctic.

“Many already know that rivers deposit a lot of microplastics to the oceans”, says senior scientist Nikolaos Evangeliou from NILU – Norwegian Institute for Air Research. “In this study, we have found that a similar amount of such particles ends up in the ocean as a result of atmospheric transport.”

As the global production rate of new plastic products continues to increase, ever greater quantities evade waste collection and recycling. However, the ecological and environmental consequences of rising plastic pollution are poorly understood. We also know too little about how microplastic particles travel from where they are produced to all ends of the world.

Nikolaos Evangeliou and colleagues from NILU, IIASA and the University of Vienna combine a global quantification of road microplastics (produced from tyre wear and brake wear) with simulations of atmospheric transport to determine the dispersion of these pollutants. The majority of traffic-induced microplastics comes from densely populated regions like the eastern US, Northern Europe and the heavily urbanized areas of Southeast Asia.

Continue reading at Norwegian Institute for Air Research

Image via Norwegian Institute for Air Research