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It’s snowing plastic in the Arctic now

It’s snowing plastic in the Arctic now
Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute use the board helicopter from the icebreaking research vessel Polarstern to collect snow samples. Even in the Arctic, the snow is polluted with microplastics. [Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut/Mine Tekman]

While the world may have hoped that it would rain tacos some day, instead it is snowing plastic.

In what is supposed to be one of the few remaining pristine wildernesses out there, scientists have discovered that among the snowflakes gently falling over the Arctic, there were a whole bunch of microplastic particles, too. It wasn’t just a gentle scattering of microplastics, either. The scientists found more than 10,000 plastic particles per liter of snow in the Arctic.

The lead scientist, Dr. Melanie Bergmann, told BBC News: “We expected to find some contamination, but to find this many microplastics was a real shock.” They also found rubber particles in the snow as well as remnants of rubber tires, varnish, paint, and possibly synthetic fibers, showing humanity’s inescapable bad influence on the planet.

The snow samples were taken from the Arctic’s Svalbard islands. The team of German and Swiss researchers published the alarming discovery in the journal Science Advances. They believe the majority of the microplastics they found in the Arctic were from the air. What that means for the health of humans or, more importantly, for the polar bears who call Svalbard home, is unclear.

This finding confirms the results of an earlier study that revealed that microplastics were falling from the sky onto the French Pyrenees. Thanks to our plastic addiction, there’s pretty much no plastic-free pristine oceanriversoil, or mountaintop left, except in Thomas Kinkade paintings.

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