From Monday, it will be raining plastics in Paris

France’s capital Paris will be witnessing a heavy downpour of microplastics from the sky on Monday. Yes, you read that right! Plastics, not water droplets.

In the first-ever plastics pollution weather forecast, scientists have predicted a downpour of range between 40 and 48 kilograms (88 and 106 pounds) of free-floating plastic bits hovering over Paris skies every 24 hours, French scientists involved told AFP.

If there is heavy rain, then the chances of “plastic fall” is likely to increase up to tenfold, they said.

This peculiar weather phenomenon comes at a time when diplomats from over 175 countries are converging at the French capital from Monday for five-day talks to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.

“This should sharpen the focus of negotiators,” Marcus Gover, head of plastics research at the Minderoo Foundation based in Perth, Australia, told AFP news agency.

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“Plastic particles break down into the environment and this toxic cocktail ends up in our bodies, where it does unimaginable damage to our health.”

Scientists have found that most plastic particles falling over Paris’ 2,500-square-kilometer (965-square-mile) catchment area are nylon and polyester, probably from clothing. The other bits are from tires, which shed them especially when vehicles brake.

They have estimated that up to 10 metric tons of microplastic fibres will settle over the Paris area over an entire year.

Forecast for next week covers only larger particles

The forecast for Paris next week only covers significantly larger particles, mostly synthetic fibres at least 50 microns in length. For comparison, human hair is about 80 microns (or 80,000 nanometers) across.

The study was done by scientists from Minderoo Foundation researchers who based their research in Paris starting in 2015, collecting samples from multiple locations year round and sifting through them in the laboratory

Measurements taken by other teams have replicated these findings in half a dozen cities around the world.

Microplastics have emerged to be a major health hazard for humanity as they are now found in rainwater, the food chain, and oceans, where 15 to 51 trillion particles are estimated to drift near the surface.

In recent years, the pace at with which microplastics have entered the food chain has baffled scientists, who have presented a plethora of research documenting its omnipresence and persistence.

(With inputs from agencies)

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