The Earth just shed a few more tears after nanoplastic pollution was identified in the polar regions for the first time, which indicates that these toxic particles are now prevalent around the world.
According to The Week, nanoparticles are invisible to the naked eye, and can’t be detected through standard scientific sampling and measuring processes.
Particles found in Greenland shows that nanoplastic contamination has been polluting the remote region for at least 50 years, as scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands revealed in a newly published study.
One quarter of the particles were from vehicle tyre dust, and these nanoparticles are thought to be blown to Greenland on winds from cities in North America and Asia, while the nanoplastics found in sea ice were likely transported by ocean currents, The Guardian reports.
“We detected nanoplastics in the far corners of Earth, both south and north polar regions. Nanoplastics are very toxicologically active compared to, for instance, microplastics, and that’s why this is very important,” said Dušan Materić who led the new research.
The Guardian goes on to say that microplastics were found in Arctic ice previously, but new detection methods had to be developed in order to study the smaller nanoparticles.
“Our data suggests that nanoplastics pollution is not a new problem… we are only now becoming aware of it, because we have recently developed the right method to measure it…. in the Greenland core, we see nanoplastics pollution happening all the way from 1960s… So organisms in that region, and likely all over the world, have been exposed to it for quite some time now,” Materić adds as per The Daily Mail.
Experts fear that plastic pollution could harm our ecosystems over the coming decades even further, and Materić goes on to say that human exposure to nanoplastics can result in cytotoxicity [and] inflammation.
Cape Town-based organisations such as Sea The Bigger Picture, who focuses on coastal environmental education, solutions for ocean pollution and marine pollution awareness and Sea Search, a scientific organisation that aims to conduct high quality, internationally recognised research in the marine realm are actively fighting to help our oceans.