August 16, 2019
Every year, millions of tons of plastic are discarded into the environment. They then get broken down into small particles and fibers that do not biodegrade. These particles, known as microplastics, have now been found everywhere from high mountains to deep oceans and can carry toxic chemicals and harmful microbes.
And, according to this article in The Guardian, new research has shed further light on the abundance of microplastic pollution and how it is carried around the globe by the wind. The particles then settle in snow and ice, which the researchers tested, finding 24,600 per liter on average in European locations.
A previous study found that we eat some 50,000 microplastic particles a year. And one researcher is convinced that there are “many more particles in the smaller size range beyond our detection limit.” The worry with smaller particles, he continues, is “they can be taken up by a greater range of organisms and, if they reach nano-scale, they could penetrate cell membranes and translocate into organs much more easily than the larger fraction.”
While the effect of microplastic particles on human health is, as yet, unknown, what IS known is that they will be around forever.