14 August 2019

Plastic fibers falling from our skies

The image will be reasonably familiar to anyone who has seen a contaminated specimen through a microscope, but this is a view of rainwater from the mountains of Colorado.
Rainwater samples collected across Colorado and analyzed under a microscope contained a rainbow of plastic fibers, as well as beads and shards. The findings shocked Wetherbee, who had been collecting the samples in order to study nitrogen pollution...

“My results are purely accidental,” he said, though they are consistent with another recent study that found microplastics in the Pyrenees, suggesting plastic particles could travel with the wind for hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers. Other studies have turned up microplastics in the deepest reaches of the ocean, in UK lakes and rivers and in US groundwater.

A major contributor is trash, said Sherri Mason, a microplastics researcher and sustainability coordinator at Penn State Behrend. More than 90% of plastic waste is not recycled, and as it slowly degrades it breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. “Plastic fibers also break off your clothes every time you wash them,” Mason said, and plastic particles are byproducts of a variety of industrial processes.
The original publication is here (pdf).

I wonder if anyone else is reminded of Morgellons, which was prominently in the news about ten years ago and had its own research foundation.


  1. if this stuff is falling from the sky, would that mean that it is in the air we breathe?


  2. Morgellons is the first thing that came to my mind -- is this some kind of collective psychosomatic expression of discontent from the body of Earth?

  3. I wish the original article specified the magnification of the photos!

  4. Kilometres is spelt kilometres, call me pedantic if you will.
    I do wonder if this is a hemispherical issue, the plastic, I mean, and am I safe here in the southern half of the globe ?


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