Plastic production has been rising exponentially since its industrialization in the 1950s. However, a large proportion of plastic is used to design objects with a short lifespan, and very little has been done to address how these objects are to be managed at the end of their life. Several recent studies have shown that the entire planet is affected by plastic pollution.
Once in the environment, plastic debris lingers on. It fragments and erodes under the effect of solar radiation and mechanical constraints, forming nanoscale particles. The presence of these microscopic particles is worrying because they interact with organisms at the bottom of the food chain.
of plastic produced in the world since 1950
has become waste
is in landfills or in the environment
The presence of plastic in environments remote from human activities suggests that plastic may be present in the atmosphere and transported over long distances. The team of researchers led by Alexandra Ter Halle, from the Interactions Moléculaires et Réactivité Chimique et Photochimique laboratory (IMRCP) has developed a new and innovative, multi-dimensional analysis approach for the:
In parallel, the Institut de Chimie de Clermont Ferrand (ICCF) is developing atmospheric sampling methods and characterizing the soluble plastic byproducts present in the air.
These analyses are performed on samples collected:
1. At the summit of the Puy de Dôme volcano (Auvergne - Central France): precipitation (rain, snow), aerosols and clouds.
The Cézeaux-Opme-Puy de Dôme network of atmospheric observatories of the Observatoire de Physique de Globe de Clermont-Ferrand (OPGC) is internationally recognized for its research on aerosols and greenhouse gases.
The Air Liquide Foundation is contributing to the research work by funding analysis equipment and the salaries of members of the research team.
1 Laboratory of Molecular Interactions and Chemical and Photochemical Reactivity of Toulouse (South of France)
2 Institute of Chemistry of Clermont-Ferrand (Central France)
3 The French National Centre for Scientific Research