Car tyres are major source of ocean microplastics – study

(The Guardian, 14 Jul 2020) Wind-borne microplastics are a bigger source of ocean pollution than rivers, say scientists

More than 200,000 tonnes of tiny plastic particles are blown from roads into the oceans every year, according to research.

The study suggests wind-borne microplastics are a bigger source of ocean pollution than rivers, the route that has attracted most attention to date. The analysis focused on the tiny particles produced by tyres and brake pads as they wear down.

It estimated that 550,000 tonnes of particles smaller than 0.01mm are deposited each year, with almost half ending up in the ocean. More than 80,000 tonnes fall on remote ice- and snow-covered areas and may increase melting as the dark particles absorb the sun’s heat.

Microplastic pollution has polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them, But the impact on human health is not yet known.

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The Guardian, 14 Jul 2020: Car tyres are major source of ocean microplastics – study