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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

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