Plastic pollution has reached the Arctic, with particles of car tyres and the plastic found in paint now part of the composition of Arctic snow.
Tiny plastic particles, called microplastics, sit in the dirty air above Europe & Asia. Currents in the atmosphere then bring those plastic particles over to the artic.
Through a process of precipitation the microplastics then end up in the snow, as the release of water from the sky brings the particles down with it. This can also happen in the form of rain, sleet, or hail.
Dr Melanie Bergmann from the Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, says: “It’s apparent that the majority of the microplastic in the snow comes from the air”
Alfred Wegener, who also works at the Institute, conducted a study in which the researchers put fresh snow into glass containers, melting it and pouring it through a filter. They then examined what was trapped in the filter with an infrared microscope, which aided in identifying the types of microplastics found.
People have long been worried about the mass of plastic entering the oceans, but it is becoming increasingly acknowledged and pressing to draw attention and research to the plastic entering the air too. There are growing concerns around the amount of plastic residing in the air and subsequently being inhaled by humans.