Microplastics “spiralling around the globe,” says new study on airborne plastic pollution
A new study has revealed rising levels of airborne microplastic pollution “spiralling around the globe,” as reported in The Guardian this week.
People are already known to breathe, drink and eat microplastics and research suggests levels of pollution will continue to rise rapidly. One of the concerns from this study on airborne microplastics is that these plastic particles are more mobile in air than previously thought, and moving across the globe through the atmosphere, as well as oceans, rivers, and land. Once released in the environment, microplastics are practically impossible to remove, and are expected to remain in the environment for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years, with severe and well documented effects on the environment. The health impacts of microplastics in the body is as yet unknown.
The analysis calls plastic pollution one of the most pressing environmental issues of the 21st century. A large number of chemicals are used in the production of plastic materials, ranging from the molecules that make up the plastic itself, to a wide range of additives used, for example to soften plastic. Read more about the harmful chemicals that can be found in plastics.
The EU is moving ahead with a wide-ranging restriction on intentional use of microplastics in products. However, the UK Government did not include a restriction on microplastics in its first work plan on restricting chemicals, now that the country has left the EU.
This will mean the UK’s controls on chemicals will start to fall behind those of other EU countries.
Read more about how the UK is diverging from EU chemical controls in our recent blog.