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Discovery of microplastic pollution in Arctic snow prompts health concerns

Scientists working on Arctic ice (Photo: NASA)Scientists working on Arctic ice (Photo: NASA)High levels of microplastic pollution have been found in snow from the Arctic to the Alps, according to a recent study. It shows that there is significant contamination of the atmosphere by microplastics, that they are being carried around the planet in winds—and that humans and animals are breathing them in. Dr Melanie Bergmann, a marine ecologist with the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, who led the study, said: “We really need research on the human health aspect."

Particles in the air

Snow captures the microplastic particles from the air as it falls. Samples taken from snow on ice floes in the Arctic Ocean between Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard contain an average of 1760 microplastic particles per litre, although one spot had a reading of about 14,000. In the German and Swiss Alps, average levels of 24,600 per litre have been recorded.

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