A team of Earth scientists poses a question to the environmentally conscious among us: How hard do you ride your brakes? At this point, a lot of people have embraced the idea that it’s probably not a bad idea to use a metal straw instead of a plastic one to help combat microplastics in the environment, but what about the particles left behind when we drive our cars?

When we think of microplastics, we may envision an ocean littered with straws, or even human guts riddled with plastic pellets. But as scientists continue to research microplastics, it’s becoming clear that the problem goes beyond the ocean, stretching all the way inland to major highways, where cars shed tiny pieces of rubber and brake pads as they speed by. A recent analysis of the air quality surrounding German highways unveiled this month at the Geological Society of America’s annual conference in Indianapolis builds upon earlier findings. As lead study author Reto Gieré, Ph.D., chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s Earth and Environmental Science Department tells Inverse, when you take a closer look, these particles are more harmful than we initially thought:

Read More… A Design Solution Could Help Curb Tire-Based Microplastics

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