Atmospheric transport and deposition of microplastics in a remote mountain catchment

Steve Allen, Deonie Allen, Vernon R. Phoenix, Gaël Le Roux, Pilar Durántez Jiménez, Anaëlle Simonneau, Stéphane Binet, Didier Galop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1099 Citations (Scopus)
407 Downloads (Pure)


Plastic litter is an ever-increasing global issue and one of this generation’s key environmental challenges. Microplastics have reached oceans via river transport on a global scale. With the exception of two megacities, Paris (France) and Dongguan (China), there is a lack of information on atmospheric microplastic deposition or transport. Here we present the observations of atmospheric microplastic deposition in a remote, pristine mountain catchment (French Pyrenees). We analysed samples, taken over five months, that represent atmospheric wet and dry deposition and identified fibres up to ~750 µm long and fragments ≤300 µm as microplastics. We document relative daily counts of 249 fragments, 73 films and 44 fibres per square metre that deposited on the catchment. An air mass trajectory analysis shows microplastic transport through the atmosphere over a distance of up to 95 km. We suggest that microplastics can reach and affect remote, sparsely inhabited areas through atmospheric transport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-344
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number5
Early online date15 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • plastic litter
  • environmental contaminants
  • microplasics
  • atmospheric microplastic deposits


Dive into the research topics of 'Atmospheric transport and deposition of microplastics in a remote mountain catchment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this