Microplastic pollution has exhibited a global distribution, including seas, lakes, rivers, and terrestrial environment in recent years. However, little attention was paid on the atmospheric environment, though the fact that plastic debris can escape as wind-blown debris was previously reported. Thus, characteristics of microplastics in the atmospheric fallout from Dongguan city were preliminarily studied. Microplastics of three different polymers, i.e., PE, PP, and PS, were identified. Diverse shapes of microplastics including fiber, foam, fragment, and film were found, and fiber was the dominant shape of the microplastics. SEM images illustrated that adhering particles, grooves, pits, fractures, and flakes were the common patterns of degradation. The concentrations of non-fibrous microplastics and fibers ranged from 175 to 313 particles/m2/day in the atmospheric fallout. Thus, dust emission and deposition between atmosphere, land surface, and aquatic environment were associated with the transportation of microplastics.
Keywords: Atmospheric fallout; Dongguan city; Microplastics; SEM; μ-FTIR.