Articles | Volume 23, issue 24
Research article
22 Dec 2023
Research article |  | 22 Dec 2023

Is transport of microplastics different from mineral particles? Idealized wind tunnel studies on polyethylene microspheres

Eike Maximilian Esders, Sebastian Sittl, Inka Krammel, Wolfgang Babel, Georg Papastavrou, and Christoph Karl Thomas

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Subject: Aerosols | Research Activity: Laboratory Studies | Altitude Range: Troposphere | Science Focus: Physics (physical properties and processes)
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Cited articles

Alexiadou, P., Foskolos, I., and Frantzis, A.: Ingestion of macroplastics by odontocetes of the Greek Seas, Eastern Mediterranean: Often deadly!, Mar. Pollut. Bull., 146, 67–75,, 2019. a
Allen, S., Allen, D., Phoenix, V. R., Roux, G. L., Jiménez, P. D., Simonneau, A., Binet, S., and Galop, D.: Atmospheric transport and deposition of microplastics in a remote mountain catchment, Nat. Geosci., 12, 339–344,, 2019. a
Allen, S., Allen, D., Baladima, F., Phoenix, V. R., Thomas, J. L., Le Roux, G., and Sonke, J. E.: Evidence of free tropospheric and long-range transport of microplastic at Pic du Midi Observatory, Nat. Commun., 12, 7242,, 2021. a
Allen, S., Allen, D., Karbalaei, S., Maselli, V., and Walker, T. R.: Micro(nano)plastics sources, fate, and effects: What we know after ten years of research, J. Hazard. Mater. Adv., 6, 100057,, 2022. a
Bank, M. S. and Hansson, S. V.: The Plastic Cycle: A Novel and Holistic Paradigm for the Anthropocene, Environ. Sci. Technol., 53, 7177–7179,, 2019. a
Short summary
Do microplastics behave differently from mineral particles when they are exposed to wind? We observed plastic and mineral particles in a wind tunnel and measured at what wind speeds the particles start to move. The results indicate that microplastics start to move at smaller wind speeds as they weigh less and are less sticky. Hence, we think that microplastics also move more easily in the environment.
Final-revised paper