Micro Plastic in Clouds: Basics Explained

Japanese scientists, in a study published in the journal Environmental Chemistry Letters, confirmed the presence of  microplastics  in clouds, where they are likely affecting the
climate in ways that are not yet fully understood. The scientists identified nine different types of polymers and one type of rubber in the airborne microplastics, which ranged in size from 7.1 to 94.6 micrometres.

Microplastics – are defined as plastic particles under 5 millimetres that come from industrial effluent, textiles, synthetic car tires, personal care products, and other sources.


Since plastics belong to a chemical family of high polymers, they are essentially made up of a long chain of molecules containing repeated units of carbon atoms. Because of this inherent molecular stability (high molecular weight), plastics do not easily break down into simpler components.

Due to the non-biodegradable nature of plastic, it is quite dangerous to make our environment polluted with plastics as it will not break down into simpler compounds and get absorbed into the air-water or soil.

It will eventually photo-degrade, i.e. break down into smaller and smaller fragments by
exposure to the sun
. The photo-degradation process continues down to the molecular level, yet photo-degraded plastic remains a polymer. No matter how small the pieces, they are still and always will be plastic, i.e. they are not absorbed into or changed by natural processes. Plastic becomes microscopic, invisible, yet ever-polluting waters, beaches, coasts, and seafloor, being eaten by even tinier marine organisms, therefore entering the food chain insidiously and ineluctably.

Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic (bisphenol-A or BPA) and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.                                 

Plastic is a petroleum product; to truly divest from fossil fuels, we must reduce our collective plastic footprint. More and more awareness and prevention programs need to be promoted which should ultimately lead us toward better choices in term of consumption and waste management of plastic at an individual level.

Types of plastic waste

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET), High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene
or Styrofoam (PS) are the different types of plastics.


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