Scientists in Japan have discover the presence of microplastics in the clouds over Mount Fuji, according to a recent study published in Environmental Chemistry Letters. The research team says it analyzed samples of cloud water from Mount Fuji, Mount Oyama, and other summits in Japan that measure 1300 to 3776 meters in altitude. The results are somewhat terrifying.
The increase of plastic pollution over the past several decades has not only been linked to cancer, infertility, and immune diseases, but it has also been linked to inflammatory bowel disease, and we’ve even seen plastic particles appearing in fish and other foods that we eat. The discovery of microplastics in the clouds is yet another reminder of how far our effect on the environment goes.
“Our findings suggest that high-altitude microplastics cloud influence cloud formation and, in turn, might modify the climate,” the study’s authors write. Considering how many tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean yearly, it shouldn’t be surprising that most of the microplastics discovered in the clouds originated from the ocean.
The big concern here, of course, is that the presence of microplastics within our clouds could further affect the climate, forcing more climate change than ever before. These microplastics can then travel to other parts of the world, where they can be introduced into different environments and affect different animals and plants. But many hydrophilic polymers were also discovered, which could play a huge part in rapid cloud formation and thus affect climate systems more intensely.
The researchers say they discovered 6.7 to 13.9 pieces of plastic within each liter of cloud water they analyzed. That’s an insane amount of microplastics to find in a single liter of water, especially water that is being rained back down upon our planet at any given time.