(ORDO NEWS) — Canadian scientists have found many fibers of synthetic fabrics in the waters and ice of all regions of the Arctic. Most likely, they got there along with the Atlantic currents. An article describing the observations was published by the scientific journal Nature Communications.
“Synthetic fibers are found in all Arctic seas. In the western regions of the Arctic they are usually more worn out than in the east. This suggests that most of these particles of debris come here from the North Atlantic,” the researchers write.
About 300 million tons of plastic waste ends up in wastewater and landfills each year. Soil microbes cannot decompose most of it, so this garbage remains almost intact for tens and even hundreds of years.
If these particles get into the water, then they do not stay in it for a long time: most likely, they are eaten by sea inhabitants. Subsequently, this plastic can enter the human body along with fish and other seafood. However, not all plastic disappears from the water: scientists find its particles in the most inaccessible corners of the Earth – for example, in the Mariana Trench.
Scientists led by Peter Ross, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia (Canada), came to similar results. During four expeditions to the western and eastern regions of the Arctic, they found large quantities of plastic particles and other forms of man-made debris in the Arctic.
Researchers collected ice and water samples in the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Svalbard, in the vicinity of the North Pole and off the coast of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Then they were frozen, transported to the laboratory and studied. The analysis showed that there are samples of plastic and synthetic fibers in all regions of the Arctic, including in the vicinity of the pole.
On average, each cubic meter of water contained about 200 particles of debris. 90% of these were fibers from polyester and other types of synthetic textiles. Scientists assume that they got into the waters of the oceans along with the drains of washing machines and laundries from coastal cities in Europe, America and Asia.
Oceanologists believe that almost all of this debris ends up in the Arctic with the waters of currents from the North Atlantic. They penetrate the interior of the Arctic, moving along the coasts of Europe and Greenland. Subsequently, these fibers and particles are distributed throughout the Arctic Ocean. The consequences of this movement for the ecological situation in the Arctic remains to be seen.
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