Nanoplastics measured for the first time at the Sonnblick Observatory

The results of the study by Dr. Dušan Materić brought exciting results which were carried out as part of the "Transnational Access Program" of the EU project INTERACT (supported by the EU Horizon 2020 project INTERACT, grant agreement No. 730938). The aim of the NIRA (Nanoplastics In Remote Air: types, concentrations and size distribution) measurement campaign is to detect nanoplastic particles in remote regions.

For the first time in history, the presence of nanoplastic particles could now be detected at the Sonnblick Observatory. With a size of around 200 nm, the particles found correspond to only about one hundredth of a human hair.

In addition to the size, the researchers were particularly astonished by the high concentration. The results suggest that in addition to microplastics, just as much nanoplastics could be present in these remote locations. Since it is very unlikely that such a high concentration could come from local, untouched alpine regions, a search began for the origin of the particles. The researchers found a striking connection between high concentrations of nanoplastics and winds from major European cities, above all Frankfurt and the industrial Ruhr area, as well as the Netherlands, Paris and even London.

A more detailed interview with the author can be found at:

The published paper can be found at: DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117697