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So far we have not seen 98% of the pollution from microplastics

pollution from microplastics

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New study on microplastic pollution in Antarctica

( – Plastic fragments smaller than a millimeter have now been found even in the most remote environments, from the top of the highest mountains to the depths of the ocean pits. The spread of microplastic pollution, however, says little about the quantity, and therefore about the concrete gravity of this problem.

A study carried out by the University of Basel used a new method of collecting and analysing samples capable of detecting even the most microscopic fragments below 300 μm. And he concluded that so far we have only seen the tip of the iceberg: 98.3% of microplastic pollution consists of pieces of plastic material between 300 and 500 μm, that is, 0.3-0.5 mm. A human hair has an average thickness between 0.06 and 0.1 mm.

Data referring to the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, in the southern sector of Argentina. In these waters of the South Pole, the researchers collected samples by pumping the water into special tanks, filtering it and then analyzing it using infrared spectroscopy. The method usually used by researchers for marine microplastics, on the other hand, uses nets with a mesh size of 300 μm.

Pollution in the Antarctic Ocean goes far beyond what was reported in previous studies,” explains Clara Leistenschneider, author of the study published in Science of the Total Environment. However, these are inconclusive data on the actual extent of microplastic pollution.

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It remains difficult to determine the role played by ocean currents, just as there is no data on microplastics deep in the Antarctic ocean. Moreover, it is not even clear where the fragments in the region come from. Among the possible candidates, there is the regional naval traffic for tourism that for the peach, is tied to the scientific shipments. However, microplastics may also arrive in Antarctica from other regions through ocean currents or atmospheric transport.

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