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The nightmare of microplastics: even the Arctic Ocean is full of them

Man is really working fiercely to destroy planet Earth, and in fact he is succeeding very well indeed. A new study has confirmed the presence of microplastics even in one of the most remote regions of the planet, the Arctic Ocean.

Microplastic pollution is not only causing problems for marine wildlife that depend on the sea for their sustenance, but in recent years it is also entering the human food chain, with serious repercussions on our health and what we eat every day.

Suffice it to say that The researchers analyzed seawater and sediments in the western part of the Arctic Ocean, which makes up 13 percent of its total area. In this area alone, they calculated that 210 thousand tons of microplastics have accumulated in the water, sea ice and sediment layers formed since the 1930s.

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Microplastics in the Arctic Ocean
Man is really working ferociously to destroy planet Earth, and in fact he is succeeding very well indeed. A new study has confirmed the presence of microplastics even in one of the most remote regions of the planet, the Arctic Ocean. The research team noted that microplastic contamination in the Arctic Ocean has increased proportionally and in tandem with the growth in plastic production, which now stands at one billion tonnes.
Di Oregon State University - https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/21282786668/, CC BY
210,000 tons of microplastics in the west alone
The study was conducted by analysing both sea water and sediments in the western part of the Arctic Ocean (approximately 13% of the sea surface was analysed). In this small portion alone, it was calculated that 210,000 tonnes of microplastics have accumulated in the water, sea ice and sediment layers formed since the 1930s.
Di Wofratz - Opera propria, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=588255
The study published in 'Science Advances'
The study was published a week ago in the scientific journal 'Science Advances'. The researchers found as many as 19 types of synthetic polymers, present in three distinct forms (i.e. fragments, fibres and plates), including a huge amount of microplastics, including fragments of bottles, broken bags and microfibres from synthetic clothing.
Di Translator: Bukkia - Cia's World Factbook, Pubblico dominio, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w
A problem that is bound to get worse
Seung-Kyu Kim, a marine scientist at Incheon University and lead author of the new study, told 'US Wired': "The input of microplastics into the Arctic has increased exponentially in recent decades, with an annual rate of increase of 3 per cent. Mass production of plastics, with an annual increase of 8.4 per cent, coupled with inefficient waste management systems, is predicted to further increase the load of plastics entering the ocean in the coming decades, and thus the plastic entering the Arctic will increase proportionally'.
Di Martin Wagner et al. - Wagner et al.: Microplastics in freshwater ecosystems: what we know and wh
Increased production is reflected in the environment
The study demonstrated a really important fact for microplastics containment policies, showing, once and for all, that "any increase in production is reflected in the environment AND as more research on human exposure comes to light, I believe the increase will be seen in the human body as well," says Steve Allen, microplastics researcher at the Ocean Frontiers Institute.
Di Brocken Inaglory. - Opera propria, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=
How microplastics arrive in the Arctic Ocean
A 2019 study entitled 'Microplastics Are Blowing Into the Pristine Arctic' found around 14,000 microplastics per litre of Arctic snow, which arrived in the region transported from European cities. However, microplastics also arrive in the Arctic sea from the sea: for example, when washing clothes, hundreds of thousands or even millions of synthetic fibres come off, which after being processed end up in the ocean. The currents then carry the microplastics to the Arctic, where they are eventually trapped in the sediments.
Di Clandon haverford - Opera propria, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=
Calls continue to be made for a treaty at the United Nations
The scientific community, as well as environmentalists, continue to call on the United Nations for a treaty mandating a decrease in plastic production in the near future. This is a solution that could really work. Some researchers have realised that although the level of microplastics has increased over the last 20 years, these increases fluctuated between 1990 and 2005, possibly due to the effectiveness of a 1988 international agreement limiting plastic pollution from ships.
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