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Traces of plastic, rubber, varnish, paint and possibly synthetic fibers were found in the snow samples.
Winter is around the corner and with falling snowflakes come microscopic plastic particles, at least that’s what scientists say is happening in the Arctic right now in a new study published in the journal Science Advances.
Over 10,000 particles of plastic were found per liter of snow in the Arctic, the study conducted by a team of German-Swiss researchers said.
Rubber particles and fibres were also detected in the freshly fallen snow samples collected from the Svalbard islands using low-tech equipment: a spoon and a canning jar.
These were transported to the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany. According to the study, the particles were so small, it was difficult to determine their origin. Traces of plastic, rubber, varnish, paint, and possibly synthetic fibers — all smaller than 5 mm — were found mixed with plant cellulose and animal fur.
"It's readily apparent that the majority of the microplastic in the snow comes from the air,” lead scientist Melanie Bergmann told BBC News.
"We expected to find some contamination but to find this many microplastics was a real shock," she said, adding that the team doesn't know "if the plastics will be harmful to human health or not. But we need to take much better care of the way we're treating our environment."
Other snow samples gathered from Germany and Switzerland show even higher concentrations of plastic than those from the Arctic.