A new study now claims that thousands of tonnes of microplastics might be swept towards the land every year by sea breeze.
In the study published in the journal PLoS One, researchers have found evidence of microplastics in tine water droplets. This suggests microplastics could be ejected from the sea spray which could be blown with the wind back onto land.
The study was conducted by the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and Observatoire Midi-Pyrenees at CNRS-University of Toulouse, France.
Speaking about the study, Steve Allen who is the co-author said that even though sea breeze has traditionally been considered to be clean air, the study shows that a surprising amount of microplastics are carried by it.
“It appears that some plastic particles could be leaving the sea and entering the atmosphere along with sea salt, bacteria, viruses and algae,” he added.
The scientist added that while bubble ejection of particles is a well-known phenomenon, the new study now shows microplastic is also being ejected from the sea.
This is the first time a study has shown oceans to be an atmospheric microplastic source, he explained.
Researchers estimate that about 1,36,000 tonnes of microplastic can be potentially released from marine environments through sea spray and carried by sea breeze to the shores.