Scientists discover it’s “raining plastic” from metro Denver to high in Rocky Mountain National Park |

Scientists discover it’s “raining plastic” from metro Denver to high in Rocky Mountain National Park

U.S. Geological Study research in Colorado finds “plastic is everywhere”

Bruce Finley, The Denver Post
This photograph taken with a binocular microscope shows colorful plastic fibers and fragments filtered from Colorado Front Range rain water and snow samples.
(Photo courtesy of Greg Wetherbee / USGS)

Scientists testing rainwater around metro Denver and high in the Front Range mountains found microscopic bits of colored plastic in more than 90% of their samples — adding to growing evidence that plastics have contaminated the planet far more deeply than people can see.

This research led by U.S. Geological Survey research chemist Greg Wetherbee is raising questions about the possible impact on people and ecosystems. It’s unclear, for example, whether metro Denver drinking water treatment plants remove these tiny plastic fibers and shards.

“People might be seeing a lot of plastic in the oceans, on the ground, at the supermarket. But there is more plastic in the environment than meets the eye,” Wetherbee said in an interview Thursday. “Plastic is everywhere. It is in the rain and snow.”

The findings are summarized in a federal research report titled “It Is Raining Plastic” that was published in July after passing a four-stage, peer-review process. It’s based on analysis of 300 rainwater samples collected weekly in 2017 at six urban sites in the Denver-Boulder area and two in the mountains, including a seemingly isolated site in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lab analysis using microscopes found water from the Colorado collection sites contaminated with blue, red, silver, purple and green fragments from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic.

Read the full article at The Denver Post.

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