A team of German and Swiss scientists have detected the presence of microplastic particles in the snow of the Arctic and the Alps that seems to have been transported through the air to remote areas of the planet.
The study, carried out by the Alfred Wegener Institute, says these microplastic particles of less than five millimeters and whose presence have repeatedly been documented in seas and animals, have also reached snow.
The study was conducted by scientists at the German institute and at the Swiss WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF.
“The fact that our oceans are full of plastic litter has by now become common knowledge: Year after year, several million tonnes of plastic litter find their way into rivers, coastal waters, and even the Arctic deep sea,” the study said.
“Thanks to the motion of waves, and even more to UV (ultra violet) radiation from the sun, the litter is gradually broken down into smaller and smaller fragments – referred to as microplastic,” it explained.
Snow tests have been performed in different regions of Germany: in Bavaria and the northern coast, as well as in the Arctic and the Swiss Alps.
Until now, the presence of one of the greatest threats to the environment and human health - microplastic - has been deeply studied in rivers, seas and ocean sediments.
However, the possible transmission of microplastic particles through the atmosphere and its presence in the snow had been hardly analyzed, with the exception of some preliminary studies carried out on particles found in the Pyrenees and in French and Chinese urban centers, according to the study published by the German institute.
The highest concentrations of microplastic were detected in snow tests conducted along a Bavarian highway, with a ratio of 154,000 particles per liter.
Whereas in the Arctic, the concentration levels stood at 14,400 particles per liter. EFE