Researchers have for the first time detected microplastics in freshly-fallen snow in Antarctica.
Microplastics are small bits of plastic, 5 millimetres or less in size and either engineered for end-products, or the result of environmental degradation of polymer-based trash according to Horiba scientific.
Researchers have found microplastics in marine and terrestrial life. It invades the food chain, and it’s even been found in salt, sugar, beer, alcohol, and honey. Not to mention glaciers and rainwater.
New Zealand scientists say the debris has the potential to influence climate change. The BBC’s Phil Mercer reported that microplastics which are smaller than a grain of rice were found at 19 sites across the Ross Island region of Antarctica.
The most common type identified in freshly-fallen snow was used to make soft drink bottles and clothing. Researchers in New Zealand say it is possible those tiny particles travelled thousands of kilometres through the air, or that the presence of people in Antarctica has established a microplastic footprint.
Scientists fear the cumulative build-up of these toxins might affect the health of living organisms; however researchers are still unsure about how much of microplastics can the human body tolerate.
They warn the debris has the potential to influence the climate – accelerating the melting of snow and ice.
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