Japanese researchers discover microplastics in clouds, raising grave climate concerns

Japanese researchers discover microplastics in clouds, raising grave climate concernsJapanese researchers discover microplastics in clouds, raising grave climate concerns
via Gaddict
Ryan General
September 28, 2023
Japanese scientists have discovered the presence of microplastics (plastic particles under 5 millimeters) in clouds, a finding that scientists say could have far-reaching implications for our climate.
The study: For their study recently published in the journal Environmental Chemistry Letters, researchers from Japan’s Waseda University collected 44 cloud water samples from the summits of Mount Fuji, Mount Oyama and other locations ranging in altitude from 4,200 to 12,300 feet. 
The scientists investigated the presence of airborne microplastics using advanced imaging techniques like attenuated total reflection imaging and micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.
Concerning findings: The team identified a total of 70 microplastic particles, representing nine different types of polymers and one type of rubber. These tiny particles, measuring between 7.1 and 94.6 micrometers, were found in concentrations ranging from 6.7 to 13.9 particles per liter (33.8 oz).
Climate change impact: While not much is known about the actual effects of the airborne particles, the research team hypothesized that its results could be catastrophic. The scientists noted that when these airborne microplastics are exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, they degrade and release greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming. 
“If the issue of ‘plastic air pollution’ is not addressed proactively, climate change and ecological risks may become a reality, causing irreversible and serious environmental damage in the future,” warned lead author Hiroshi Okochi. 
Weather, health implications: The report further emphasized that these microplastics could also lead to alterations in rainfall patterns and overall precipitation, ultimately affecting ecosystems and agriculture. 
The research team also raised concerns about the findings’ effect on human health. As microplastics in clouds fall to the ground as rainwater, they could contaminate agricultural products and livestock, potentially entering the human body through consumption.
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