Particles of plastic found in the Arctic snow

Particles of plastic found in the Arctic snow

A recent study in the Arctic has revealed microscopic particles of plastic, falling from the sky along with snow. Scientists expressed shock after discovering the number of particles that were found, which was more than 10,000 per litre.

This evidence led scientists to believe that the people in the Arctic were also breathing microplastics from the air, although its health implication was not yet discussed.

The study led by a team of German-Swiss researchers also found rubber particles and fibres in the snow. The snow samples were collected by means of a low-tech method – a dessert spoon and a flask from the Svalbard islands.

These samples were later studied in Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven and researchers were shocked to notice the high number of contaminating particles, some of which were so small, one couldn’t even trace its exact source.

Reports suggest, a majority of the particles were composed of natural materials such as plant cellulose and animal fur. The samples also revealed the presence of fragments of varnish, rubber tyres, paint and even synthetic fibre, along with the particles of plastic.

“We don’t know if the plastics will be harmful to human health or not. But we need to take much better care of the way we’re treating our environment,” commented Dr Melanie Bergmann, based on the discovery. Bergmann is the study’s lead scientist.

Among the samples collected from Germany, a higher percentage of contamination was observed than in the samples from the Arctic.

According to the experts, microplastics are commonly being blown by winds and through undiscovered mechanisms, they are further transported to long distances through the atmosphere. However, the contamination in the Arctic is still a mystery to the scientists. Some allege its origin from ships grinding against the ice or from the wind turbines.

The latest discovery has been bad news for the Arctic, which has been considered as one of the pristine locations of the Earth.

The work of the German-Swiss team of researchers has been published in the journal Science Advances.