Microplastics Found in Snow in Siberia, Russia

Alex Mangels | | BrainsBrains
Microplastics have become increasingly encountered in the environment. Credit: Brendan Bannon

Researchers recently found microplastic pollution in Siberia, one of the world’s most remote areas. These recent findings are another example of human pollution permeating the environment.

At Tomsk State University, researchers found airborne plastic fibers in snow samples taken from twenty different Siberian regions. Snow sampled from the Altai Mountains, near Mongolia, to the Arctic all, contained microplastics. Russian scientists are now working to uncover just how threatening this is to the region.

Microplastics are fragments of plastic that are less than five millimeters in length. Over time, these small pieces are created when plastic breaks down. Microbeads, sometimes found in cosmetic products such as toothpaste and facial cleansers, are another form of microplastics. These pieces of plastic enter the ecosystem as they break down, impacting the environment. Upon entering water sources, they can be circulated into the entire biosphere. The discovery of microplastics in some of the most remote places on the planet proves the limitless nature of this dispersion. The plastic particles transported by rain and wind seep into the soil and upset the natural pH balance.

microplastic pollution
The many ways microplastics circulate the biosphere. Credit: S. Zhang et al.

Microplastic impact on human and marine health has been a topic of research. Experts estimate that most marine creatures have eaten them at some point. Humans have been ingesting microplastics as well, also breathing in fibers from the air.

The scale at which microplastics have entered the biosphere is not yet known. However, scientists have found 10,000 of them per liter of snow in a remote region of the Arctic. It is hard to imagine the massive amounts in which they are present in the world’s developed areas. Humans have used plastics for over a century and a half, and we must find ways to reduce and reverse the effects these man-made products have on our environment.

microplastic sources
Microplastics come from numerous manufactured products. Credit: iberdrola.com

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