Airborne microplastics also pollute isolated snowy areas

Pollution by microplastics does not only affect the seas and not just the more or less inhabited regions. A new study confirms that many particles of microplastics can also be found in remote regions such as the Arctic or the Alps.

According to the study, published in Science Advances and conducted by a group of researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, these particles are transported by air because they are very light and generally very small in size. The researchers analyzed various samples taken from isolated areas of Bavaria, the Swiss Alps and the Arctic and found high concentrations of microplastics in all of them.

While the enormous quantities of microplastics present in the oceans are usually transported by rivers that make them travel long distances, as many long distances they can make when they are transported by air and then deposited on the ground by precipitation. This is particularly the case with snow that seems particularly suitable for storing high concentrations of microplastics, as Gunnar Gerdts explains: “Snow is extremely efficient when it comes to washing the microplastics out of the atmosphere.”

According to the researchers, the fact that this plastic is transported by air in remote snowy regions is corroborated by the fact that pollen can travel long distances from mid-latitude to the Arctic. And the pollen grains have more or less the same size as microplastics particles. The same thing, among other things, can be done with the finest Saharan sand which, transported by air, can travel great distances.


Links/Sources:

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/8/eaax1157

Phil Coleman

Phil is a former professor and mathematician with particular expertise in elliptic curves and number theory. During his spare time, he enjoys flicking through science journals and keeping up to date with developments in a number of fields. It's no surprise that he is a valuable and keen contributor to IBN News, and he hopes to build up this publication into 2020 and beyond.

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Phil Coleman