Monday, June 20, 2022

Spider Webs Could Help Track Microplastic Pollution Levels In The Air - Here's How


Microplastics have managed to breach into each and every aspect of our lives, whether it’s in the water we drink, or the food we eat and its presence has been spotted even in secluded areas like Mount Everest and Antarctica.

However, now, researchers from the University of Oldenburg in Germany have shown how spider webs could be helpful as a tool for monitoring microplastic pollution in the air we breathe. 

Environmental sciences student Rebecca Sussmuth of the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg collected spider webs from bus stops across Oldenberg. The webs were put through a series of tests in a laboratory to filter out small particles and look at its overall composition. 

Study co-author Isabel Gossman saw that all the spider web samples had traces of microplastics. In fact, for some web samples, microplastics comprised a tenth of the total weight of the spider’s structures. About 90 percent of the detritus were variations of PET (polyethylene terephthalate), with the overall majority polymer being C-PET, likely coming from textile fibres.

The researchers had included particles originating from tyres under the category of microplastics. The microplastic concentration, specifically involving tyre residue differed based on how busy the street was, from where the samples were collected.

Researchers highlight how spider webs could become an important source to glance at the level of microplastic pollution in a particular area.

"The sampling is simple and no special sampling devices are necessary. Covered bus stops are popular all over the world and orb-weaving spiders occur in nearly every habitat on Earth. Therefore, spiderwebs are an easily accessible medium around the globe to mirror microplastics in urban air," they say in their paper.



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Item Reviewed: Spider Webs Could Help Track Microplastic Pollution Levels In The Air - Here's How Rating: 5 Reviewed By: BUXONE