Is it a warning? Microplastics breach another frontier, now found in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica

Edited By: Gandharv Walia
Sydney Updated: Jun 08, 2022, 02:58 PM(IST)

Now, microplastics have been found in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica (representative image). Photograph:( WION Web Team )

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Around an average of 29 microplastic particles per litre were found by Aves in snow. The samples taken from areas near scientific bases on Ross Island, Scott Base and McMurdo Station had nearly three times the plastics in comparison to the remote areas. In the results, Aves found 13 types of plastics. The most common was PET, which is used to make soft drink bottles and clothing

After making its presence felt in human lungs and blood, microplastics seem to have breached another frontier. It has been found in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica, media reports said. This has happened for the first time. The new discovery of the tiny plastics could prove detrimental for nature as it may accelerate melting of snow and ice. This may also threaten the unique ecosystems of the continent. Microplastics are even smaller than a grain of rice. Earlier, they were found in sea ice and surface water in Antarctica, the researchers said. Microplastics have also been found in humans and have been threatening to cause new troubles.   

The research, which has been published in scientific journal ‘The Cryosphere’, has been conducted by Alex Aves, PhD student, University of Canterbury. It was supervised by Dr Laura Revell.  

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In late 2019, Aves collected samples of snow from the Ross Ice Shelf to look whether microplastics were transferred from the atmosphere into the snow. “We were optimistic that she wouldn’t find any microplastics in such a pristine and remote location,” Revell said.   

Samples were also collected by Aves from Scott Base and McMurdo Station roadways, where microplastics were found previously. So, “she’d have at least some microplastics to study,” Revell said.  

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After the tests, plastic particles were found in all the 19 samples from Ross Ice Shelf. “It’s incredibly sad but finding microplastics in fresh Antarctic snow highlights the extent of plastic pollution into even the most remote regions of the world,” Aves said.  

Around an average of 29 microplastic particles per litre were found by Aves in snow. The samples taken from areas near scientific bases on Ross Island, Scott Base and McMurdo Station had nearly three times the plastics in comparison to the remote areas. In the results, Aves found 13 types of plastics. The most common was PET, which is used to make soft drink bottles and clothing.   

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(With inputs from agencies) 

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