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Invisible pollution travelling to the mountains: microplastics in the Pyrenees



Imagine walking through the Pyrenees. Snow lying on the mountaintops, insects buzzing around the flowers, sheep grazing the pastures, an icy river fed by the last Pyrenean glaciers. Such a pristine environment, seemingly far away from all human impact.

But appearances can deceive. Last April an article was published in the Nature Geoscience journal by researchers from Scottish and French Universities. This article indicates not even the Pyrenees are remote enough to escape plastic pollution. Plastic degrades until forming tiny pieces, called microplastics. While their presence in water bodies and soils have received increasing attention over the past years, for example by the National Geographic, up till now the microplastic’s occurrence in the atmosphere was largely unknown.

The research site was the Bernadouze meteorological station, located in southwest France (Ariège department) at 1425 metres above sea level. Research there has confirmed that microplastics can be transported by the atmosphere and deposited far away from their source. Meaning that microplastics become airborne, travel some distance on the air currents, and then are deposited mostly through rain- and snowfall. Specifically, about 365 microplastic particles per square metre were found daily at the research site. This level of concentration came as a surprise, as it is comparable to big cities like Paris, known for its air pollution issues.

However, it is still unclear where these microplastics come from, and why in such high concentration, as there are no industrialized and densely populated cities in at least a 100-kilometre radius. Hence, more research is necessary, both to understand more on the atmospheric dynamics of microplastics, but also on the effect to the environment and human health, still unknown. But it is now beyond doubt that microplastics are a novel form of air pollution. While previously it was thought to just affect at the local level (within buildings and cities), now it is clear microplastics are capable of being transported far away by atmospheric dynamics to reach even the remotest of places.


2 May 2019

Euromontana sur Facebook

8 hours ago


Hier au European Parliament, Franc Bogovič a accueilli le premier événement de l'intergroupe #SmartVillages - les députés européens et d'autres parties prenantes travaillant ensemble sur des solutions innovantes pour les zones peu peuplées, montagneuses et rurales d'Europe !
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2 days ago


Our member Acap Pyrénées produced a film on innovation improving the sustainability of the sheep breeding sector 🐑 An English version of the film is also available 👇C'est déjà officiel, nous avons enfin ici le film sur le projet Pirinnovi_POCTEFA réalisé par l'ACAP et le réalisateur Marc Cousin. Une vidéo réalisée avec beaucoup d'enthousiasme par les partenaires du projet, les techniciens des chambres d'agriculture et les agriculteurs des Pyrénées orientales et centrales. Si vous souhaitez en savoir plus sur le projet, il vous suffit d’aller sur notre nouvelle chaîne YouTube et de choisir votre version préférée (français, espagnole ou anglais). Vous y trouverez également le reste des films de l'ACAP. Nous espérons que vous l'aimez et que vous nous donnez beaucoup de Likes! www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CCejBNH67Y&t=43s ... See MoreSee Less

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Euromontana sur Twitter

Yesterday at @EUparliament, @Franc_Bogovic hosted the first event of the #SmartVillages intergroup - MEPs and other stakeholders working together on innovative solutions for Europe's sparsely populated, mountainous and rural areas!
➡️ https://t.co/0V9aYsBLnl


The #EuropeanParliament with @Franc_Bogovic and key stk groups has launched the intergroup on #smartvillages for Rural Communities to discuss how to bring forward this exiting concept in rural areas to combat depopulation and achieve modern and sustainable rural communities https://t.co/gAvkYAfa1L

Today, the FREE Initiative participated in the inaugural meeting of the Intergroup #SMARTVillages for Rural Communities at the @EUparliament in #Strasbourg . Thank you @Franc_Bogovic and @EnginEroglu_FW for hosting this event! #RuralEnergyMatters https://t.co/vI1YacYj6g

Tomorrow, the #FREEInitiative, with @Euromontana @sspa_network @ruraleurope @_CEJA_ and MEPs @Franc_Bogovic and @EnginEroglu_FW, will host the inaugural meeting of the Intergroup #SMARTVillagesForRuralCommunities in #Strasbourg Info: https://t.co/XushWz16rv

. @EURAC published a study on transfers of #ecosystem services. It shows a high demand for mountains' ressources, from water to places for outdoor activities, but also says a lot about rural-urban linkages in mountain areas 👇

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