Russian scientists in Siberia have found snow polluted with micro plastics that then melts and seeps into the ground.
Researchers at Tomsk State University (TSU) gathered snow samples from 20 different Siberian regions and that their preliminary findings confirm that airborne plastic fibres are turning up in snow in remote parts of the wilderness.
“It’s clear that it’s not just rivers and seas that are involved circulating micro plastics around the world, but also soil, living creatures and even the atmosphere,” Yulia Frank, scientific director at TSU’s Micro plastics Siberia centre, told Reuters.
Micro plastics, which are created when bigger pieces of plastic litter break up over time, are increasingly being found in the air, food, drinking water and even Arctic ice. Scientists are increasingly worried they may pose a risk to human health and marine life.
Tomsk scientists have previously found micro plastics in the digestive systems of fish caught in Siberian rivers, confirming that they are contributing to polluting the Arctic Ocean with plastic.
“Siberia is absolutely under-researched in this aspect and our (Russia’s) interest in this problem comes late compared to the rest of the world,” Frank said.
Scientists are now studying the snow samples to understand to what degree population density, the proximity of roads and other human activity contributes to the pollution.