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  • Wednesday, Jun. 17, 2020

    USU Researchers Find Alarming Amount of Microplastic on Protected Lands

    Nearly 350 million metric tons of plastic was produced worldwide in 2017; and while we’re aware of plastic that ends up in landfills or the ocean, a group of Utah State University researchers say there’s an alarming amount of plastic that’s raining down on protected lands in the western U.S. annually. The study was published in Science Magazine Friday. The group of researchers found that more than 1,000 tons of plastic rained down in protected parks they had kept track of during a 14-month period. They say plastics and polymers fragment into pieces known as microplastics that can easily be picked up into the atmosphere in a system similar to the water cycle. Scientists were already aware that these microplastics were found in all sorts of different bodies of water, but this study’s results stunned researchers said Janice Brahney, assistant professor in USU College of Natural Resources’s watershed sciences department and lead author of the study. The results prompted researchers to go back and confirm their findings through 32 different particle scans, she said.

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