Microplastics are defined as plastic particles ranging in size from 5 mm to 1 μm and are a toxic threat to the environment and health of all living things. Primary microplastics have been defined as microplastics resulting from manufacturing. Secondary microplastics occur as a result of broken-down plastics. The plastic cycle is a biogeochemical cycle detailing the complex movement of plastics between abiotic and biotic ecosystems including humans. Important worldwide institutions have declared microplastics a priority for the future health of the planet. Past research has focused primarily on aquatic environments while plastic migration in the air has been understudied. Microplastics have been quantified in rivers and mountains. In the United States, a research project focused on microplastic levels in the Snake and Lower Columbia rivers. In Europe, atmospheric deposition of microplastics was studied in the French Pyrenees as well as urban Paris. The research objective herein was to study and quantify the abundance of atmospheric microplastic deposition through sample collection in stations located throughout Utah Valley. Atmospheric deposition is the main avenue in which microplastic transport occurs. Under the right conditions, plastics can be transported across oceans and continents either in one trip or through resuspension. Microplastic deposition in rural and suburban areas is not fully understood and wet and dry microplastic deposition rates need more study. China, France, Germany, Ireland and the United States have all researched atmospheric deposition of microplastics. Estimates show that microplastics have a high density in cities. Rural areas such as farmland are also affected by microplastics. Utah Valley represents a unique location due to the amount of transportation, the weather and the geography.
University / Institution: Utah Valley University
Format: In Person
SESSION C (1:45-3:15PM)
Area of Research: Science & Technology
Faculty Mentor: Sally Rocks