It’s Raining Plastics
A team of researchers from the US Geological Survey (USGS) were examining rainwater samples for nitrogen pollution, and subsequently discovered plastic in the samples. In a new report, aptly titled “It is raining plastic”, the team explain that plastics were identified in over 90 percent of the rainwater samples they took at eight different sites, most of which are between Denver and Boulder, Colorado in the United States.
It is not certain where the plastic is coming from, but plastic contamination has been a growing problem throughout the world. Trillions of pieces of plastic litter float through the ocean, killing fish and other animals. An earlier study found that people are swallowing an average of 5 grams of plastic every week.
The team found mostly strands of plastic. These strands look suspiciously like microfibres from synthetic materials, such as those that make up a lot of clothes. There were also a number of colours – blue was the most common, but red, silver, purple and green were also found.
Scientists still have much to learn about the extent of microplastics pollution, but the available evidence suggests that plastic has made its way into nearly every part of the environment, from the atmosphere to the deep ocean, as well as in marine life and birds. Alarmingly, scientists have also found microplastics in human stool, and plastic fibers in human lungs.