In a groundbreaking discovery, Japanese researchers have detected microplastics in clouds through outdoor observations, shedding light on potential implications for human health and delicate oceanic ecosystems.
The exact impact of these particles remains largely unknown, but their presence in clouds could potentially influence the earth’s climate. Microplastics, which are minute fragments of plastic, might serve as “seeds” around which raindrops are formed due to the condensation of clouds, facilitating the formation of larger raindrops and consequently intensifying rainfall.
As reported by Nikkei Asia, these microparticles in clouds could eventually find their way into the human food chain through agricultural products and livestock, potentially posing risks to human health.
Led by Professor Hiroshi Okochi of Waseda University, the research team inspected 44 water samples collected from clouds at both the summit and base of Mount Fuji, as well as the summit of Mount Tanzawa-Oyama, situated west of Yokohama in Kanagawa prefecture.
Upon extensive analysis, the researchers identified 70 microplastic particles, categorizing them into nine distinct types. These particles exhibited sizes ranging from 7.1 to 94.5 micrometers and concentrations varying from 6.7 to 13.9 particles per liter. The term “particles per liter” denotes the quantity of particles or objects within a specific volume of liquid, in this case, one liter.
The prevailing theory among researchers is that these particles may have been transported into the atmosphere through mechanisms such as sea spray, mist, or the dispersal of tiny seawater droplets generated by the crashing waves of the ocean, subsequently condensing into cloud formations.