For the first time, researchers have identified the presence of small pollutant plastic particles in both polar regions of the world.
Microplastics had previously been found in samples of Arctic ice, but “it turns out that there is an even smaller and more toxic form of plastic pollution that is making its way into remote parts of the world,” said the report. Eco clock.
A research team from Utrecht University says in their paper that nanoplastics often “evade attention” from research on polar plastic pollution. Environmental Studies magazine. Nanoparticles are invisible to the naked eye and cannot be detected through standard scientific measurement and sampling procedures.
Instead, studies often focus on microplastics, which range in size from one micrometer to five millimeters and are known to cause a number of environmental problems and disrupt marine ecosystems. Nanoparticles, often a by-product of microplastics that break down in the natural environment, are less than a micrometer in size.
The team analyzed samples from Earth’s most remote regions, the Greenland ice core and the Antarctic sea ice core. They identified six types of plastic nanoparticles present in the first category, including tire wear dust, and three in the second category. The mass of particles found indicates “that small particles are now widespread around the world”, said Guardians.
Polyethylene was the most common particle found in the samples, accounting for more than half of the total particles analyzed. It is one of the most commonly used plastic materials in the world, and is used to manufacture household items including bags, plastic films and bottles.
“Nanoplastics are actually a bigger pollution problem than we thought,” said Dusan Materic, the project leader. The data also shows that this is “not a new problem”. The Greenland core containing nanoplastics suggests that this type of pollution has been “going on since the 1960s. So organisms in that area, and possibly worldwide, have been exposed to it for quite some time, ” he said.
It is generally understood that nanoparticles are easily carried over long distances by the wind due to their light weight. The researchers concluded that nanoplastics have the potential to reach the Arctic and Antarctic regions through “a combination of complex processes including atmospheric and marine transport, (re)emissions, deposition and coalescence”. They concluded that the particles likely reached Greenland through the air and Antarctica via ocean currents.
The Guardian said: “Plastic is part of a mix of chemical pollution that is pervading the planet. A study published by scientists at Stockholm Recovery Center last week said that levels of chemical synthesis in Earth’s ecosystems have now exceeded planetary boundaries for environmental pollutants.
And nanoparticles can also come with serious health risks. Pollution expert Dr Fay Couceiro told The Guardian: “Aside from the environmental damage caused by plastic, there is growing concern about the inhaling and ingesting of microplastics doing to the body. we”.
Although research into the specific risks of nanoparticles is underway, they are known to be toxic to both marine life and humans. “Nanoplastics have a very toxic activity compared to microplastics, and that is why this is so important,” said Materic.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/environment/955518/how-did-nanoplastics-end-up-at-both-the-north-and-south-poles How did nanoplastics end up at the North Pole and South Pole?