• A secluded mountain region thought to be free of plastic pollution is in fact blanketed by airborne microplastics on a scale comparable to a major city such as Paris.
  • Over a five-month period in 2017-2018, an average of 365 tiny bits of plastic settled every day on each square metre of an uninhabited, high-altitude area in the Pyrenees straddling France and Spain.
  • “It is astounding and worrying that so many particles were found in the Pyrenees field site.
  • The study focused on microplastics mostly between 10 and 150 micrometres across, including fragments, fibres and sheet-like pieces of film.
  • By comparison, a human hair is, on average, about 70 micrometres in width.
  • Plastic litter has emerged in the last few years as a major environmental problem.
  • Up to 12 million tonnes of plastics are thought to enter the world’s oceans every year, and millions more clog inland waterways and landfills.
  • Plastic takes decades to break down, and even then continues to persist in the environment. Scientists are only now beginning to measure the damage to wildlife and potential impacts on human health.
  • A study earlier this year uncovered plastic fragments in the guts of animals living more than 10 kilometres below the ocean surface.
  • Two whales found beached since the start of the year — one in the Philippines, the other in Sardinia, Italy — had 40 and 20 kilos, respectively, of plastic in their stomachs.
  • Microplastics have also been found in tap water around the world, and even the furthest reaches of Antarctica.
  • Analysing the pattern of air flows, they surmised that some particles had travelled at least 100 kilometres.
  • But due to the lack of significant local plastic pollution sources, they probably travelled farther.
  • Samples — transported by wind, snow and rain — were collected at the meteorological station of Bernadouze at an altitude of more than 1,500 metres.
  • The researchers were stunned to find that the concentrations of microplastic pollution were on a par with those found in major cities, including Paris and the southern Chinese industrial city of Dongguan.