Friday, July 19, 2024

Microplastic pollution found near summit of Mount Everest

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Microplastic pollution has been discovered in snow close to the peak of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain. With plastic debris revealed in 2018 at the deepest point on Earth, the Mariana Trench, it is now clear that humanity’s litter has polluted the entire planet.

The tiny plastic fibres were found within a few hundred metres of the top of the 8,850-metre mountain, at a spot known as the balcony. Microplastics were found in all the snow samples collected from 11 locations on Everest, ranging from 5,300 metres to 8,440 metres high.

The highest concentrations of microplastics were found around Base Camp, where climbers and trekkers spend the most time. The fibres were most likely to have come from the clothing, tents and ropes used by mountaineers, the scientists said. Other recent discoveries of microplastic pollution in remote parts of the Swiss Alps and French Pyrenees indicate the particles can also be carried by the wind from further afield.

“It really surprised me to find microplastics in every single snow sample I analysed,” said Imogen Napper, at the University of Plymouth, who led the new research. “Mount Everest is somewhere I have always considered remote and pristine. To know we are polluting near the top of the tallest mountain is a real eye-opener.” Read more…

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