Researchers have found microplastic particles in fresh snow in Antarctica for the first time, according to research published in the scientific journal. cryosphere† Microplastics have previously been found in surrounding waters, but experts are hopeful that plastic pollution has not yet reached the mainland. They fear the ice fields will melt faster, with far-reaching consequences for the continent.
Previous research on microplastics has shown that particles in the air can have a limited greenhouse effect. In addition, the dark microplastics in snow can trap heat from the sun. This contributes, to a small extent, to local warming and global climate change.
Not all of the climatic consequences of microplastics are yet known. “But so far we know it’s not good for the climate,” said study researcher Laura Revell.
So the researchers find that even more alarming is the finding of microplastics in all 19 test samples. “That’s while we were actually pretty sure we wouldn’t find plastic pollution in this remote area. It’s a sad discovery.”
At least thirteen types of microplastics have been found. Researchers have mostly encountered microplastics used to make bottles and clothing. The particles could have been carried to the continent by air, but the researchers suspect that the presence of humans has accelerated plastic pollution. The samples around the test bases contain three times the amount of microplastics found anywhere else on the continent.
Several studies have recently been published on the presence of microplastics in the human body. There is a lot of research being done on how harmful this can be, but there are concerns around the world about the potential health risks.
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