STATE OF THE OCEANS — LOG 86 (YOUR WEEKLY BRIEFING FROM PARLEY)

MICROPLASTICS

Microplastics have been found across the oceans, in Arctic snow, and now a landmark study reveals that microplastics are falling from the sky. After a year of collecting samples from 11 U.S. national parks, scientists from Utah State University estimated that over 1,000 metric tons of microplastics - equal to 300 million plastic bottles - settle in these remote areas each year. 

Lead author Janice Brahney originally set out to study how dust and nutrients move through the atmosphere, but she shifted focus after realizing that microplastics - which often carry harmful chemicals - were in almost all (98%) of her samples.

“That was a moment of being completely astounded,” Brahney said, “We’re only starting to really scratch the surface of what is in the atmosphere and how it’s moving around. There’s no nook or cranny on the surface of the earth that won’t have microplastics.”