In recent years, microplastic particles have been detected repeatedly in seawater, drinking water and even in animals. But these tiny particles are also transported by the atmosphere and subsequently removed from the air, especially for the snow, and even in regions as remote as the Arctic and the Alps, as a study recently published in the journal suggests Science Advances.
Microplastics in remote areas
Thanks to the movement of the waves, and even more to the UV radiation of the sun, the garbage gradually decomposes into increasingly smaller fragments, what is known as microplastic. This microplastic can be found in marine sediments, in seawater and in marine organisms that inadvertently ingest it.
To date, little research has been done on whether, and if so, to what extent,The microplastic particles are transported by the atmosphere. There are only a handful of works available from researchers who could confirm the presence of particles in the Pyrenees and near the main urban centers of France and China.
This new work, however, has discovered that microplastic particles can apparently be transported at extraordinary distances through the atmosphere and then removed from the air by precipitation, particularly snow. The analyzes were performed on snow samples from Helgo-land, Bavaria, Bremen, the Swiss Alps and the Arctic, and confirm that snow at all sites contained high concentrations of microplastics, even in remote areas of the Arctic, on the mainland of Svalbard and in the snow on drifting ice floes.
The types of plastic found also varied widely among the sites analyzed: in the Arctic, researchers found mainly nitrile rubber, acrylates and paint, which have a lot of applications. Given its resistance to various types of fuel and its wide temperature range, nitrile rubber is often used in gaskets and hoses.
To date, there are virtually no studies investigating the extent to which human beings are subject to microplastic contamination. "In addition, most research has focused on how animals or humans absorb the microplastic from what they eat. As one of the study authors explains: "But once we have determined that large quantities of microplastics can also be transported through the air, the question of whether and how much plastic we are inhaling naturally arises."