• Laith Sharba

Alfred Wegener Institute Investigating Microplastic drifting down with the snow

Monarch, United States
Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

Scientists had discovered the microplastic particles in the seawater and drink water and they also found it the animals in the past several years. these microparticles transported by the atmosphere and then it reached to the land by the snow you can find it in the remote regions like the Alps and the Arctic. Alfred Wegener Institute and a Swiss colleague explained how the microplastic drifting down with the snow and they published their findings in the journal Science Advances.

The plastic problem is very common now the companies produced millions of tons of plastic every year without recycling, it made our ocean full of plastic every year a huge amount of plastic find its way to the water resources like rivers and coastal water because of ignorant tourists and what surprised me is that they found microplastic in the deep Arctic sea.

It's called microplastic because the plastic particles split to smaller pieces by the motion of the waves and UV radiation. Unfortunately, now we can find the microplastic in seawater and marine sediments and it also contaminates the marine orgasms food they accidentally eat microplastic. I didn't find a lot of studies to demonstrate how microplastic transfer by the atmosphere but there are a few studies confirmed the presence of the particles in some major cities in China.

Amazing work from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) has now confirmed the presence of microplastic particles and its movement by the atmosphere for long-distance and finally, it reached to the land by the snow.

Dr. Melanie Bergmann and Dr. Gunnar Gerdts reported in journal Science Advances that they collected samples from different sites started in Helgoland and Bavaria, northern Germany in Bremen and the Swiss Alps and locations in the Arctic all samples have a high microplastic concentration the surprise that they found the microplastic concentration in remote sites like Svalbard island in the Arctic Ocean.

Dr. Melanie Bergmann said it is obvious that the highest of the microplastic in the snow comes from the atmosphere, she supported her theory by previous research which researchers proved that the Arctic has concentrations of pollen transported by the atmosphere from the middle latitudes.

The grains of pollen and the microplastic particles are almost the same sizes so it can transfer by the air and also the dust from Sahara can reach to the northeast Atlantic thousands of kilometers away.

The higher concentration of microplastic found by the AWI was 154,000 particles per liter in on a rural road in Bavaria suburb while the concentration found in the Arctic was 14,400 particles per liter you see the difference in the concentrations between the two areas! and also there are different types of microplastic material in different locations, for example, the AWI researchers found nitrile rubber in the particles and also found in some locations acrylates and pain which are using in many industries.

Nitrile rubber is usually used in gasket and hose because of its resistance to high temperature and many types of fuel, the plastic paints used in different industries like cost the building's surfaces and ships. Different types of rubber found in samples collected from a rural road around Bavaria this rubber using in different industries like automotive tires.

One intriguing side of the AWI study: the microplastic concentrations found are significantly above those in studies conducted by alternative researchers, e.g. on dust deposits. in keeping with Gunnar Gerdts, this might result in 1 of 2 reasons: "First of all, snow is very efficient once it involves washing microplastic out of the atmosphere. Secondly, it might be due to the infrared spectroscopic analysis we used, that allowed us to find even the tiniest particles -- down to a size of only eleven micrometers."

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Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research. (2019, August 14). Microplastic drifting down with the snow: In the Alps and the Arctic, experts confirm the presence of plastic in snow. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190814144503.htm

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