Microplastics: Airborne particles have a small climate cooling effect

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Airborne microplastic sampling under way at Kaitorete Spit in Canterbury, New Zealand

Alex Aves

Tiny pieces of plastic in the air may have a minor cooling effect on our climate by reflecting sunlight.

In recent years, microplastics floating in the atmosphere have been detected around the world, with the highest concentrations found in the air above London and Beijing. With a size of between 15 and 250 micrometres, similar to the thickness of a strand of hair, airborne microplastics are bigger than most other aerosols in the atmosphere, such as black carbon and …

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