A study from the San Francisco Bay Microplastics Project found that tires were the biggest source of microplastic pollution in waters off California. Microplastics are less than 5mm and are a persistent plastic source, especially in oceans.

Microplastics have been found in the stomachs of marine animals and are found to have travelled up the food chain. They have been found in water and tea. Cars have been targeted by environmentalists for their emissions. Now it seems they are also putting plastic into oceans and waterways.

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The 3 year study is the first of its kind to study microplastics in a specific region over a period of time. Its this study that found trillions of pieces of plastic flowing into San Francisco Bay.

The biggest source of microplastics in this study may be car tires. Previous microplastics studies have found that clothing fibers get into wastewater and then into oceans. This study also looked at storm drains, and found tire particles.

According to the study, “The significant difference in estimated microplastic loads contributed from wastewater compared to stormwater also indicates that key urban sources, such as tire wear, may be more important than previously hypothesized. The large number of black, rubbery fragments identified in urban stormwater and sediment suggests that inputs from tire and road wear and use of recycled tires (e.g., artificial turf) may also merit further investigation. Recent studies have indicated that tire wear during use and tire recycling applications release significant amounts of rubber particles (Kole et al., 2017; Lassen et al., 2015; Sommer et al., 2018).”

There were over 35 million cars registered in the state of California in 2018.

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Read more about microplastics and California’s plastics legislation on One Green Planet.

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