Scientists from the German Alfred Wegener Institute during Arctic expeditions in 2014-2015 discovered an abnormally high content of plastic particles in the snow near the North Pole. They conducted research trying to figure out its origins, which took them first to the mountains of Bavaria, then the Swiss Alps and, finally, to the wilderness of the French Pyrenees. Everywhere they found traces of it - a new type of atmospheric precipitation with microplastic particles.
We are not talking about plastic waste as such, but about microparticles. They are so tiny that they are easily carried with the wind, mix with dust, fall into clouds and eventually fall out with rain, snow or freeze into the ice, becoming almost one whole with it. There are many sources of such microparticles - these are polymers in household appliances, and synthetic rubber, and various types of coatings, etc.
Scientists have not been able to accurately trace the path of movement of particles, but they make a fair conclusion that they can enter the atmosphere in any part of the planet. Further, everything depends on winds and currents, so it is logical that "plastic snow" falls in the mountains, which are in the path of air currents. And here's what is important - the concentration of microplastics in the Arctic was 14, 400 particles per liter of air, while in Bavaria it is already 154, 000 particles per liter. The closer to civilization, the higher the air pollution with this material.
The specific consequences of snow mixed with plastic are still unknown. However, it is obvious that in this form, plastic waste can be transported anywhere and eventually, along with water, will end up in plants and animals. Most of all, scientists are now concerned about the question - how much microplastics can a person involuntarily inhale and how will this affect his health? Research is just beginning.