A new study has called for urgent research over the health risks of inhalation has initially found that micro-plastic particles, which have been detected in the Arctic and the Alps, are then carried by the wind, and later washed out in the snow, AFP reported on Thursday August 15th.
The study has indicated that the danger lay in the process with which several million tonnes of plastic litter are gradually broken down into smaller fragments, through the motion of waves and the ultraviolet light of the sun, and micro-plastic particles created can then be transported tremendous distances through the atmosphere.
These particles, defined as shreds which are less than five millimetres in length, and are later washed out of the air by precipitation, particularly snow.
The new study was conducted by scientists at Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute and Switzerland's Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, led by Dr Melanie Bergmann and her colleagues. They used an infrared imaging technique to analyse samples collected between 2015 and 2017 from floating ice in the straits off Greenland, visiting five floes by helicopters and dinghies, however, Bergman has revealed that little work had yet been done to determine what are the effects of exposure to these particles.
The idea of airborne transportation of particles had been developing through the work of past researchers, who found when studying pollen, that pollen from near the equator ends up in the Arctic, as does dust from the Sahara Desert, which can cover thousands of kilometres, and can end up in northeast Europe.
But according to Bergmann, once it is determined that large quantities of microplastic can also be transported by the air, “it naturally raises the question as to whether and how much plastic we're inhaling," she said, stressing the need for urgent research into the effects on all human and animal health, according to AFP.