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Home* News and Stories → 12,000 micro­plastic parts in one lit­re of sea ice …

12,000 micro­plastic parts in one lit­re of sea ice …

The Arc­tic ice is signi­fi­cant­ly more con­ta­mi­na­ted with micro­plastics than pre­vious­ly assu­med. This was the result of a stu­dy of rese­ar­chers at the Alfred Wege­ner Insti­tu­te in Bre­mer­ha­ven which was publis­hed in April.

Sam­ples from three expe­di­ti­ons in 2014 and 2015 were exami­ned, and thanks to an impro­ved exami­na­ti­on method using infra­red light, more and signi­fi­cant­ly smal­ler parts could be iden­ti­fied than in pre­vious inves­ti­ga­ti­ons.

Pres­um­a­b­ly, the micro­plastic ori­gi­na­tes from the gre­at gar­ba­ge patches in the Atlan­tic and Paci­fic Oce­an bet­ween Hawaii and North Ame­ri­ca. But local sources of pol­lu­ti­on have also been iden­ti­fied, for examp­le paint par­ti­cles from ships or nylon par­ti­cles from fishing nets.

Micro­plastics are tiny plastic par­ti­cles that are smal­ler than five mil­li­me­ters in size. It is pro­du­ced during the decay of lar­ger plastic parts, during the washing of syn­the­tic fibres, but is also con­tai­ned in many clea­ning and cos­me­tic pro­ducts.

Litt­le is known about the con­se­quen­ces of micro­plastic con­ta­mi­na­ti­on for the envi­ron­ment and humans. In labo­ra­to­ry stu­dies, howe­ver, mus­sels show­ed inflamma­to­ry reac­tions and fish beha­viou­ral chan­ges.

Also plastic was­te from cen­tral Euro­pean coun­tries inclu­ding Ger­ma­ny ends up in the Arc­tic. For examp­le, the inves­ti­ga­ti­on of plastic was­te collec­ted on Spitsbergen’s beaches, reve­a­led that seven per­cent came from Ger­ma­ny!

Every year tou­rists collect tons of plastic gar­ba­ge from the beaches in Spits­ber­gen encou­ra­ged by pri­va­te and public initia­ti­ves, by the way also on the Spits­ber­gen sai­ling trips with SV Anti­gua :-).

Plastic waste on Spitsbergen

Plastic was­te collec­ted on the beach of the Hin­lo­pen Strait, Nor­the­ast of Spits­ber­gen.

Refe­rence to two pro­jects worthy of sup­port should not be mis­sing here eit­her:
The Oce­an Cleanup deve­lo­ps tech­ni­cal sys­tems with the aim of redu­cing a huge plastic vor­tex in the Paci­fic by 50% in five years and ulti­mate­ly sup­ply­ing the fil­te­red plastic to recy­cling sys­tems.

Oce­an Care car­ri­es out pro­tec­tion and rese­arch pro­jects, orga­ni­ses cam­pai­gns and edu­ca­tio­nal pro­jects and is invol­ved in inter­na­tio­nal bodies, for examp­le as a UN spe­cial advi­ser on mari­ne pro­tec­tion issu­es.

Source: Natu­re Com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons

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last modification: 2018-05-16 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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