What if you brought your stone on a hike to plastic research?

What if you brought your stone on a hike to plastic research?

Bags hung under stones or even cups at the bottom of the river. These discoveries of abandoned plastic in the mountains are regularly made by hikers in the Pyrenees. Waste that can sometimes be found years later. French, Catalan and Andorran researchers decided to look into the topic during a large study in which they decided to involve the general public.

baptized plasticcooper“Its goal is to understand the plastic cycle in mountainous regions,” explains Gaël Le Roux, CNRS Research Director at
Environment and Functional Environment Laboratory from Toulouse. His team had already shown two years ago that the atmosphere was raining microplastic particles on the Pyrenees, which are wind-borne particles that pollute the soil.

Pictures and geolocation

But there is also all the waste that tourists have imported to remote areas and left behind, especially last summer when new users decided to clear the waste in the mountains, sometimes leaving traces of their passengers behind. But they’re not the only ones who immediately forget about plastics. In the 1970s, mountain users tended to bury them under the snow. This is how we recently found the trash left by soldiers on the Osu Glacier. And there are also those that were and are still used in land embankments for agriculture.

To see the impact of the Tour de France passing, the scientist took samples before passing to Tourmalt at the start of the week. He will do it again after that. But it is difficult for this international team to be everywhere. Therefore, in order to advance the science, those responsible for the project decided to involve the general public. Through the applicationMarine debris tracking‘, which was initially developed for ocean plastic pollution, any mountain user can take a picture of the waste they are going to collect, identify it and show what it is. It takes three seconds. And we, this will allow us to get a real-time idea of ​​the dispersal of plastic and the preferred places where it is located. Gaël Le Roux continues.

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All this data can be analyzed and presented to local decision makers for better management of waste collection areas. Or offer, like Andorra, frequent cleaning activities after the seasons in the most polluted places. Like roadsides filled with bottles and other PET waste.

Even if they disintegrate in the mountains more quickly thanks to the great variation in temperature, rain and UV rays, once they are in the form of microplastic particles, they also do not fade in nature, but remain there. “So this is not necessarily good news, it is difficult to capture. So it is easier to deal with large plastics,” notes the scientist. So on your phones, get ready, pick it up!

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