© Reuters. Microplastic particles found in snow samples taken in Siberia are seen through a microscope in Tomsk
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian scientists are trying to understand the scale of a potential threat to the environment in Siberia: snow that is polluted with microplastics and then melts and seeps into the ground.
Scientists from Tomsk State University (TSU) say they collected snow samples from 20 different Siberian regions – from the Altai Mountains to the Arctic – and that their preliminary results confirm that airborne plastic fibers appear in snow in remote parts of the wild .
“It is clear that not only rivers and oceans circulate microplastics around the world, but also soil, living things and even the atmosphere,” Yulia Frank, scientific director at TSU’s Microplastics Siberia Center, told Reuters.
Microplastics, which arise when larger pieces of plastic waste break down over time, are increasingly found in the air, in food, in drinking water and even in arctic ice. Scientists increasingly fear that they could pose a risk to human health and marine life, although there is still no consensus on this issue.
Tomsk scientists previously found microplastics in the digestive system of fish caught in Siberian rivers, confirming that they contribute to plastic polluting the Arctic Ocean.
“Siberia is completely under-researched in this regard, and our (Russian) interest in this problem comes too late compared to the rest of the world,” said Frank.
Scientists are now studying the snow samples to understand how population density, proximity to roads, and other human activities contribute to pollution.
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