Forests can trap airborne plastics

Friday 26 Apr 2024

Recent research led by Professor Miyazaki Akane of Japan Women’s University unveils forests as potential terrestrial sinks for airborne microplastics, highlighting another vital service they provide. While microplastics have drawn attention for their environmental and health impacts, their fate in the atmosphere has been unclear until now.

The study, focusing on konara oak trees in Tokyo, reveals that these particles strongly adhere to leaf surfaces, particularly to the epicuticular wax coating. By employing an effective method involving treatment with alkaline potassium hydroxide, researchers estimated that Japanese Quercus serrata forests annually capture around 420 trillion airborne microplastics.

This discovery underscores the role of forests in mitigating plastic pollution, possibly reducing human exposure to these harmful particles. However, the long-term effects of microplastic accumulation on forest ecosystems remain uncertain and warrant further investigation. Nevertheless, this study underscores yet another reason to appreciate the invaluable services provided by trees, potentially safeguarding both environmental and human health.

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Source: Technology Networks

Environmental Forestry 2024

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