Scientists discovered toxic nanoplastics for the first-time on both sides of the globe.
Researchers from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands found the harmful plastics — including tyre particles — have been polluting Greenland for as long as 50 years.
The particles were also detected in Antartica. This suggests they may be a larger pollution problem that we originally thought.
Microplastics have been discovered all around the globe, but nanoplastics are much smaller and less harmful than microplastics. We don’t know the full effects of each on our health.
With the expected tripled ocean plastic content by 2040, experts fear that they will pose a serious problem for people and other animals.
An earlier announcement by the Environmental Investigation Agency this week stated that world plastic pollution poses a threat equal to climate changes.
Researchers have revealed for the first-time that toxic nanoplastics had been found at the ends of the earth. Figure: Antartica and Greenland have the same percentage of different types of nanoplastics. The most prominent plastic found was polyethylene (PE), which is used in plastic shopping bags, bottles and packaging film. They also found dust worn from tyres (Tire) — thought to be one of the biggest causes of ocean plastic pollution — made up a quarter of the plastics in Greenland. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) — used in used in drinks bottles and clothing — made up a fifth of the pollution in Greenland
Researchers from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands found the harmful plastics — including tyre particles — have been polluting Greenland (pictured) for as long as 50 years
Plastic pollution is now a global emergency
A new report says that plastic pollution is a global emergency. It’s the same as climate change or biodiversity loss.
The Environmental Investigation Agency, (EIA), has asked nations to accept a UN treaty. This will ensure that they have legally-binding targets for plastic waste reduction.
According to the EIA, plastic pollution is directly harmful to our health and causes biodiversity loss. It also exacerbates climate changes, which can lead to a number of ‘large-scale, detrimental environmental changes.
You will find plastic in deepest oceans, at the top of mountain peaks and even on uninhabited and remote islands.
According to the agency, dedicated multilateral agreements for climate change and biodiversity loss have been in effect for almost 30 years.
Plastic pollution is a problem that has no solution.
The research was led by Dr Dusan Materic (an environmental scientist). He said, “Now, we know that nanoplastics can be transported to these parts of the earth in such quantities.”
“This shows that nanoplastics are a much bigger problem for pollution than we believed.”
The study, published in Environmental Research, analysed 14-metre deep ice cores from Greenland and sea cores from Antartica.
They used new methods to detect the nanoplastics — which are harder to find than microplastics that had already been discovered in both areas.
Researchers found found 13 nanograms of nanoplastics per millilitre of melted ice in Greenland.
And there was four times as much discovered in Antartica — a likely consequence of how sea ice concentrates particles.
Polyethylene is the most common plastic in these two regions. It’s used in packaging films, plastic bottles, and shopping bags.
Half of all plastics used in Greenland, Antartica were made from it.
They also found dust worn from tyres — thought to be one of the biggest causes of ocean plastic pollution — in Greenland.
About 25% of plastics used in this region were made from tyres.
Polyethylene terephthalate — used in used in drinks bottles and clothing — made up a fifth of the pollution in Greenland.
Dr Materic explained that the data suggests that pollution from nanoplastics isn’t a new issue.
“We only just now are becoming conscious of it because we recently discovered the correct method to measure.
“Nanoplastic pollution is a problem in the Greenland Core since the 1960s.”
“So organisms have been exposed to it in this region and probably all around the world for quite some while now.”
His previous team detected plastics in Europe’s Alps.
The plastics have been feared to be toxic for humans and animals by experts.
According to the researchers, nanoplastics can have adverse effects on many organisms.
Cytotoxicity can be caused by human exposure to nanoplastics [and] inflammation.’