Towards revealing sources of atmospheric microplastic pollution using an innovative wind-drift sampling device

, Oster Jakob, Loeder Martin, Babel Wolfgang, Georgi Christoph, Laforsch Christian.

Plastic is discussed as a stressor for the environment and health. Today there is a massive amount of literature regarding this issue for different environments. However, information about concentrations, behavior and especially sources of microplastics in the atmosphere is almost lacking completely. Investigation of the wind drift of microplastics can help closing the lack of knowledge about sources for atmospheric microplastics. Thus, in this study we investigated whether microplastics drifted by wind can be measured. Therefore, we sampled three sites with different anthropogenic influence. For that we designed a new passive wind drift sampling device. Additionally, we applied footprint analyses to these measurements to determine the origin of the particles found. We found 5.32·10−03 - 1.29·10−02 MPs/m3. The results show, that wind-drifted microplastics can be detected using the sampling device. The origin and concentration of microplastics correlate with the anthropogenic influence at the respective sampling site. These results present the proof of concept for measuring wind-drifted microplastics and will help to reveal sources of atmospheric microplastics.

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