From: British Antarctic Survey
Published June 19, 2017 07:22 AM

Plastic pollution in the Antarctic worse than expected

The continent is considered to be a pristine wilderness compared to other regions and was thought to be relatively free from plastic pollution. However new findings by scientists from University of Hull and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have revealed that recorded levels of microplastics are five times higher than you would expect to find from local sources such as research stations and ships.

Microplastics are particles less than 5mm in diameter and are present in many everyday items such toothpaste, shampoo, shower gels and clothing. They can also result from the breakdown of plastic ocean debris.

The results, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, have raised the possibility that plastic originating from outside the region may be getting across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, historically thought to be almost impenetrable.

Lead author Dr Catherine Waller, an expert in ecology and marine biology at University of Hull, says:

“Antarctica is thought to be a highly isolated, pristine wilderness. The ecosystem is very fragile with whales, seals and penguins consuming krill and other zooplankton as a major component of their diet."

Continue reading at British Antarctic Survey.

Image credit: Catherine Waller

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