As the conversation surrounding climate change and pollution continues, we can admit we’ve made some mistakes and have done some damage over the years. What we didn’t realize is how widespread the damage is. New research shows that that pollution particles are traveling as far as the Arctic.
They Found What?
Scientists have recently found varnish (which is rubber found in tires) and other rubber fragments that would most likely have come from fabrics or packaging, in the Arctic. Bad news, this means that these microplastics and fibers are airborne. Ok, so now these particles can travel around the world, far from where the damage is being done, the pollution is in the atmosphere. Do we know how to stop it? Well, no, at least not yet.
The research was done by collecting samples of snow from the Svalbard Islands, islands between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Researchers collected the samples of snow by using a low-tech method, simply using a dessert spoon and a flask. That seems like pretty basic science? But the experiments were done in the laboratory at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, and that is where they discovered much more rubber and varnish particles than they had expected.
Dr. Melanie Bergmann, the lead scientist working on the project, spoke out “We expected to find some contamination but to find this many microplastics was a real shock.” *Sad exhale*
Worse Than We Thought
It is pretty depressing to realize that the rubbish that humans are producing is affecting every single part of the world, air and snow included. These microplastics have been found across the Arctic, the Alps, Bavaria and Greenland, and probably lots of other places especially in Europe. Scientists actually found 154,000 plastic particles per liter of snow in Bavaria. That is a pretty frightening number!
Want more crazy numbers? The study showed that microplastics were in 20 of 21 samples of the Arctic Snow.
With these findings, also comes the realization that we are exposed to microplastics every day in the air. To make it simple, think about it like dust or pollen in the air that can travel around and affect us on a day-to-day basis. This could be a huge health risk we hadn’t been focusing on. What are we inhaling? If it is affecting the natural environment, it is affecting us, as well as the animals on this planet.
It is Everywhere
We guess it is no different from finding microplastics in our food, soil and drinking water, which we already knew was happening. We just hoped it wasn’t any worse than that, that was already too much. All of this info comes from the study that was done, which has opened our eyes to the reality of the situation. These microplastics are tiny pieces that are less than 5 millimeters.
Time For Action
Another recent study told us that each year, humans ingest up to 100,000 pieces of microplastic. What!? Yes, you read that correctly. What’s worse, their exact effect on the health of humans and wildlife is unclear, but we do know one thing, we need to stop it, fix it, and save the planet.