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Japanese Scientists Discover Microplastics in Clouds

For the first time, Japanese scientists have discovered microplastics in clouds, which could have a looming impact on farm goods and animal life.

In Kanagawa Prefecture, west of Yokohama, a research team led by Professor Hiroshi Okochi of Waseda University studied 44 samples of cloud water collected from Mount Fuji's top, foot, and Mount Tanzawa-Oyama's peak.

After examining the samples, the team discovered 70 microplastic particles that could be divided into nine categories.

The particles had an average concentration of 6.7 to 13.9 particles per liter and ranged in size from 7.1 to 94.6 micrometers. They are believed to have entered the sky via sea spray that formed clouds.

Researchers conclude that microplastics in clouds that are released into the atmosphere as rainwater and fall to the ground could later impact animals and farm goods, which would be detrimental to human health.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics, tiny plastic fragments less than five millimeters long, can be hazardous to aquatic life and oceans.

Environmentally harmful compounds like bisphenol A, which causes several endocrine and reproductive system problems, can function as a carrier for microplastics.

Plastic microbeads initially debuted in personal care products roughly fifty years ago, with plastics replacing natural substances more and more, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which prohibits plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care items, was signed into law by President Obama on December 28, 2015.

Although the effects of the particles may impact the climate, little is currently known about them. More research and further studies will explain how microplastics in the clouds will impact our health.

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