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Particulate matter in the Artic

Tyre abrasion is one of the main causes of microplastics in the atmosphere. New studies show for the first time how widespread microplastics, fine dust and Co. are.

Most people know microplastics in connection with oceans. More and more frequently and in high concentrations, the waste product is accumulating everywhere. But also in the air microplastics and of course particulate matter can be found. As the latest studies impressively and shockingly demonstrate, these toxins are at home even in the most remote places. Tyre abrasion and brake dust can even reach one of the world's most hostile regions via favourable winds: the Arctic.
According to a study by the University of Vienna, the wind blows around 140,000 tonnes into our oceans every year, around 50,000 of which are deposited on snow and ice. In the process, about 4 kg of material is removed from a car tyre during its average service life.

"Especially the transport to the Arctic is of particular concern because the ecosystem there is very sensitive and is already burdened by climate change and other toxins", Spiegel Online quotes the Austrian study. In addition, it could not be completely ruled out that the toxic microparticles could favour the melting process. However, critics point out that the figures analysed by the University of Vienna are not up to date and are several years old. It can therefore be assumed that the values and quantities are probably even higher than in the study. Particulate matter from Germany moves into the Arctic? Insane! The study shows how particulate matter is not only a local problem of urban regions, but also has global effects.

However, it remains questionable whether this fact encourages people to leave their cars at home more often and use alternative means of transport. The study from Vienna is causing a worldwide sensation; but if it is not already too late, are we drawing the necessary conclusions from it?