Microplastics and nanoplastics are one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. These tiny plastic particles have been found virtually in all ecosystems including land, ocean, river, lake, and even sea ice. Recently, atmosphere has emerged as an important pathway for these particles.

Using laboratory and field experiments as well as atmospheric models, we study emission, atmospheric transport, and deposition of micro- and nanoplastics in the environment. Our lab received the NSF CAREER award to investigate emissions of microplastics into the atmosphere via sea spray:

NSF CAREER Award to understand how plastic particles are aerosolized

Moreover, tire wear particles are recognized as a significant contributor to airborne microplastic emissions. It is crucial to understand and quantify microplastics within tire wear particles, as they represent an emerging source of traffic-related air pollution. Notably, electric vehicles, often touted as ‘zero-emission,’ are expected to release more microplastics from tire wear due to their consistent heavier weight compared to gasoline vehicles. Supported by the CenTiRe (Center for Tire Research), we investigate the emission of airborne microplastics in tire wear particles across scales from a single tire/vehicle to an entire city. Find more information about this project and the CenTiRe here :

Multiscale dynamic assessment of airborne microplastic emissions in tire wear particles