It is becoming increasingly clear how big our plastic problem really is: Swiss researchers have even found microplastics in the high mountains – in remote areas where no one lives. But how does the plastic get there??
Microplastics float in the oceans, but it is also becoming a problem on land. Scientists at the University of Bern have now been able to prove that even supposedly untouched areas are contaminated with plastic.
For their study the geographers took soil samples from 29 areas in Switzerland. They focused on floodplains, i.e. environments near rivers and streams. All of the areas examined were also nature reserves. The result of the analyzes: The researchers found 26 of the 29 soils examined MikroPlastik. Only three samples were not contaminated with it.
Plastic in the mountains
Plastic waste can shred and store in the floor. (Photo: from below)
The plastic concentration was particularly high where the researchers also found larger plastic waste in the soil. The particles were mainly polyethylene – the plastic is primarily used in packaging.
Particularly surprising for the scientists: even in the high mountains there was microplastics in the ground. "But that we really find it in the high mountains, where there are actually no plastic sources, no industry, not many people who can somehow deposit garbage, we did not assume," said Moritz Bigalke, co-author of the study, Deutschlandfunk.
What does microplastics do to the environment??
But how does plastic get to such heights? This question cannot be answered clearly. However, the scientists suspect that the particles are blown into the areas by the wind, reports Deutschlandfunk. But that also means that if the tiny microplastic particles are really blown through the air in the wind, we will probably breathe them in too – not a particularly pleasant idea. Depending on how high the plastic concentration is, this could also be harmful to health.
It is still unclear what impact microplastics in the soil can have on the environment, wildlife and us humans. There are only a few scientific findings: There are only two studies on earthworms, explains Bigalke to Deutschlandfunk. According to the studies, microplastics in low concentrations can cause inflammation in them. In high concentrations, it could even kill the worms.
Plastic seems to be everywhere
The fact that the plastic has now reached the Swiss high mountains is definitely worrying. Recently, scientists have repeatedly discovered plastic in unexpected places – for example in the arctis and even at the lowest point on earth.
Even food is contaminated with it: microplastics have already been detected in tap water, mineral water, salt and beer. All of these finds show that we urgently need to change the way we handle plastic. What you can do yourself: Life without plastic: everyone can implement these 14 simple tips and Microplastics: where it is hidden and how you can avoid it
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