Microplastics found in Antarctica for first time

Tags: Popular Science and Technology

Scientists have found microplastics in fresh ice in the Antarctic for the first time.

  • Scientists have warned that the microplastics in the fresh snow of Antarctica would accelerate the process of melting of ice. 

  • The researchers found an average of 29 microplastic particles per litre of melted snow.

  • There were 13 different types of plastic found.

  • The findings, published in The Cryosphere Journal, point to a serious threat to the Antarctic region.

  • Impact of microplastic on environment

  • Studies have shown that microplastics negatively impact the health of the environment, as well as limit the growth, reproduction and normal biological functions of organisms.

  • Studies show that the global usage of plastic is set to increase by three fold by the year 2060. 

  • Microplastics have been discovered inside fish and under Arctic ice in the deepest ocean depths.

  • Microplastics if found in humans have negative health effects.

  • In 2019, Alex Aves, a PhD student at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, collected ice samples from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

  • The researchers found in the laboratory that every sample from even remote sites on the Ross Ice Shelf contained plastic particles.

  • Microplastics were found in ice samples from 19 sites in the Ross Island region of Antarctica.

  • What are Microplastics?

  • These are defined as plastics less than five millimetres in diameter.

  • They are small plastic particles that result from commercial product development and the breakdown of larger plastics.

  • Microplastics are non-degradable and insoluble in water.

  • As a pollutant, microplastics can be harmful to the health of the environment, humans and organisms.

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