HomeNewsPlastic Pollution Discovered at North and South Poles for the First Time

Plastic Pollution Discovered at North and South Poles for the First Time

by Matthew Memrick
(Citizen of the Planet/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The discovery of toxic plastic pollution at the North and South poles for the first time is worrisome to researchers.

Scientists from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium found significant amounts of nanoplastics in areas once thought to be outside the scope of human touch.

These toxic plastics are potentially harmful to growth and cell reproduction in organisms. They can travel by air and are used in clothes and plastic water bottles.

The Hill reported on this polar pollution.

Plastic Pollution Far Reaching In The World

These scientists published a study, reporting the presence of these plastics in polar ice for the first time.

The fact that this contamination has worked its way into ecosystems over the past few decades is curious. Scientists are unsure how they will affect organisms worldwide.

Small in size and easy to move through the air, these nanoplastics can easily work their way as fragments in the environment. Scientists define them as being smaller than a micrometer in size. 

How did they find the plastic? Scientists dug 14 meters into the ice in Greenland and Antarctica sea ice cores. They deduced that wind and water currents spread the nanoplastics to remote locations.

At the same time, The Guardian reported that these light nanoparticles travel by wind from Greenland to North American and Asian cities. 

While scientists recognized the plastic pollution problem was “not a new problem,” they were pleased they developed the correct way to measure it.

Utrecht University scientist and study lead author Dusan Materic acknowledged that nanoplastic pollution samples came from Greenland back into the 1960s. He admitted that “organisms from that region had been exposed to the pollution for “quite some time now.”

Multiple Nanoplastics Found In Ice

The study cited polyethylene as a dominant nanoplastic found in the ice. That particular plastic is very common in single-use packaging items like garbage bags, food containers, housewares and pipes. Scientists said that the particles of specific plastics were present in more than half of the particles found.

As for Greenland’s ice samples, polyester was a primary culprit. Clothing and drink bottles use those polyethylene terephthalate particles. Another particle found in the samples was plastic tire dust.

Another study found widespread plastic pollution can travel from oceans to Mount Everest and other remote Earth locations.

How bad are these plastics? They can hurt or change organisms when exposed to them. They can harm humans through impeded growth, delayed development and other cellular changes. Researchers have found humans with exposure to nanoplastics have suffered cell damage and inflammation. The ultimate impact on human health is unknown at this time.

Scientists want to continue their research on how toxic these plastics exist and ultimately contribute to worldwide pollution.