Plastic Travels by Land, Sea and Sky

A recent study on microplastics in the mountains of the remote French Pyrenees reveals that plastic can travel at least 100 kilometers (roughly 62 miles) through the air. And even the most remote areas of the planet experience regular deposition of tiny plastic pieces, almost like precipitation or the accumulation of silt in a river bed.

Plastic is now a part of our planet — like sand, water and oxygen.

Plastic is also invading our soil and rivers. It has reached the deepest parts of the ocean and entered the food web of deep sea creatures who were virtually unknown until fairly recently.

Meanwhile, at the ocean’s surface, the great island of garbage floating through the Pacific is now twice as large as Texas. There’s enough plastic in the ocean — from its deepest parts to its surface — that it’s choking creatures great and small, including whales.

This new study shows atmospheric transport — the ability for tiny pieces of plastic to travel great distances via wind — is more significant than previously imagined. It’s jaw-dropping to think plastic is reaching the highest mountains and most distant deserts, as well as the deepest parts of the ocean.

But from environmental and health perspectives, the fact that plastic degrades into tiny pieces that persist for decades is concerning. And yet we continue to produce so much of it.

We are approaching a point when we will be eating, drinking and breathing plastic perhaps more than any natural contaminant — such as silt, dust or metals, for which our bodies at least have some natural defenses. Depending on the type of plastic, toxins may leach out. But the deposition of microplastics, which can accumulate within our bodies, will cause health problems no matter what — just as they are for wild animals.

If plastic producers don’t care about the havoc they are wreaking on the natural world, they would do well to consider we are part of that world — drinking its water, breathing its air and eating its plants and animals. Rich or poor, plastic pollution will affect all of us when the air, land and water become completely saturated.

Photo credit: Spiderstock/Getty Images

45 comments

Olivia H
Olivia H20 days ago

Thanks

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Thomas M
Thomas M23 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan H25 days ago

thanks

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Shirley S
Shirley S27 days ago

Did we start using plastic bags to save the use of paper ?

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Ruth S
Ruth S28 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S28 days ago

RECYCLE! Thanks.

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Debbi W
Debbi W29 days ago

Every single country must cut back on the use of plastic. That is a monumental task and I fear may take too long to accomplish. If all of us work together, it could make a huge difference in our ecology.

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Leanne K
Leanne K29 days ago

And laziness Alea C. Yes there's corporate greed but it suits most people. It's easier and it's easier to believe that myth that the council will pickup all that litter, even though the evidence is right there. And to top it off, no one likes to be dictated to. They will deliberately litter. They like the power of knowing that they have killed a whale

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Leanne K
Leanne K29 days ago

The message is out there. There has been environmental campaigns running continually for more than forty years. Every body does actually know. So why do hundreds of people stubbornly refuse to pick up onecleanplastic bags blowing along on the wind at the damn beach. Why do thousands daily leave the extra fruit and veg plastic bags in the trolley in the supermarket carpark opposite the beach. Why don't they handed ofpeopke traipsing that path to the beach not puckupone plastic bottle or indeed that discarded beer bottle or ten. They know they will pass a bin yet not one does. You tell me, I do, and I never ever ever seen anyone else do so, outside of an organised cleanup that's once a year or wow once a month

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Anne M
Anne M29 days ago

Plastic,, human scourge...

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