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Current Affairs

Microplastics in Arctic snow indicate air contamination

Date: 09 October 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers have discovered traces of microplastics in samples of snow taken from various parts of the world including the Arctic.

 

Details

  • Microplastics and fibers were identified in 20 of the 21 snow samples. Most particles were in the "smallest size range."

  • While the concentration of the pollutant in the Arctic snow was "significantly lower" than the European samples, it was still "substantial," according to the study.

  • Varnish, a hard, protective finish or film typically used in wood finishing, and rubber were found in the snow samples.

  • Also discovered in the samples was polyethylene, the most common plastic in the world, and polyamide, used in synthetic fabrics, automotive applications, toothbrushes, and carpets, among other things.

  • The study, which provides the first data on contamination of snow by microplastics, postulated that the pollutants were potentially carried via air and stressed the need for further research.

  • The high microplastics concentrations detected in snow samples from continental Europe to the Arctic indicate significant air pollution and stress the urgent need for research on human and animal health effects focusing on airborne microplastics.