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Researching a possible hazard in the ocean air

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Category: research Video duration: Researching a possible hazard in the ocean air
Hosein Foroutan, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, is researching the prevalence of microplastics in ocean spray, and how microplastic particles re-enter the air given the movement of ocean water and air. 
Plastic pollution generally is associated with the marine environment. So all of us have a picture of a plastic bottle or maybe a plastic bag in the ocean. As this plastic bottle of plastic bag stays in the ocean flying time, they start to break down into smaller parts. Sometimes these plastic smaller particles, so tiny that one tenth, 100th size of a salt grain. So if they're so small through the process of wave breaking, they may be basically ejected to the air. So when waves break in the ocean, air gets entrained into the water and these bubbles rise up, they burst, they emit particles. They are organic matters, bacteria, viruses, whatever is in the water, into the atmosphere. And we're specifically looking into the transfer of microplastics by these bubble burst. While we do is like basically simply put known size of microplastics particles in the water. And we do the way breaking replication phenomenon in the tank. And we collect whatever gets in the air into a filter sample. And we scan that and see the distribution, relative distribution of particles in the water and in the air. That way we know if they can get airborne or what ratio that can they get airborne. These tiny particles when you scale up with the size of the ocean, talking about tons of plastics getting into the air. Recently, microplastics have been found in lot of human beings. So it shows that inhalation is a pathway for the plastics to get into that, but also they've been found in blood. So my lab looks into this process and trying to understand the mechanism of this aerosolization and how they get to the air. And once they're in the air, how long ago in distance they go after being here. I think it's really important and makes me feel good. That is, what we are doing in the lab is actually have an impact on people.