A recent study by Griffith indicates that people are likely exposed to thousands of airborne microplastics each year in indoor environments.
The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology (I link it here) has discovered alarming amounts of microplastics (MPs) at internal and external sites in Sri Lanka. With concentrations up to 28 times higher indoors. This research highlights (as if there were still a need) the prevalence of microplastics now everywhere and it could be a warning sign for other regions of the world that are similarly affected by this growing environmental danger.
Breathe plastic air
If you consider that the vast majority of people spend about 90% of their time indoors, you will understand how the estimated average of 2675 inhaled microplastic particles could even be in short supply. Second Kushani Perera of the Australian Rivers Institute, which studies inhalation as a significant route for human exposure to plastics, data in this area are still scarce.
And yes, because there is little research on airborne plastic particles, and all from high-income countries. Still less, however, the research on low-middle income countries.
A toxic (and invisible) cloud of microplastics, especially at home
To measure the presence of microplastics (MPs), the researchers collected air samples from six different ecosystems with different population sizes, such as urban, rural and coastal habitats. Interestingly, MP levels in indoor environments were significantly higher than outdoors, regardless of the type of environment. Analyzes revealed that transparent fibers between 0,10 and 0,50 millimeters in length made up the majority of particles at all sites examined.
The dominant type of microplastic we breathe is PET (polyethylene terephthalate) fibre, mostly sourced from clothing and textiles.
Because it is important
Why is it important to start microplastic screening in South Asia? For two reasons. First: it is an area that is home to a quarter of the world's population. Second (excuse the pun): it is the second global producer of plastic waste.
To date, almost non-existent monitoring (and especially mitigation) measures have been implemented against airborne microplastics. Not just in South Asia, but all over the planet.
This study lays the foundations for long-term monitoring of microplastics. It will be used to obtain a detailed database on their abundance and distribution, and to accurately evaluate the countermoves to adopt.