The crisis of microplastics is intensifying exponentially


Even the Arctic Ocean is not immune to the continuous growth of microplastic pollution. In a new study, researchers calculated the amount of particles deposited in ocean water since the early 1930s by analyzing sediment core samples. The research team found that microplastic pollution in the Arctic has been growing exponentially in line with the growth of plastic production. The amount of plastic production now reaches about half a trillion kilograms per year, and it is predicted that the amount of plastic waste will increase to three times this figure by 2060.

According to the website WiredIn a recent study, researchers analyzed the sea water and sediments of the western part of the Arctic Ocean, which constitutes 13% of the total area of ​​this ocean. In the same area alone, they calculated that 210,000 tons of microplastic pollutants have accumulated in layers of water, sea ice, and sediment that have formed since the 1930s.

Researchers in an article published last week in the journal Science Indonesia published, cataloged 19 types of synthetic polymers in three forms: fragments, fibers, and sheets, reflecting a staggering array of microplastic sources, including fragments of plastic bottles and bags and microfibers of synthetic fabrics.

Overall, the team found that the level of microplastic settling in the Arctic Ocean doubles every 23 years. This result reflects It is research which was previously done on ocean sediments off the coast of Southern California and shows that sediment density doubles every 15 years. Other researchers also in Other researches have reached results based on the exponential increase in pollution by sediments in urban lakes.

Seungkyu Kim, the paper’s lead author and a marine scientist at Incheon National University, believes the problem is likely to get worse in the future. In his correspondence with Wired, he wrote that “over the past decades, the input of microplastics to the Arctic has increased exponentially at a rate of 3 percent per year. It is predicted that the mass production of plastic with an increase of 8.4% per year, despite the ineffective waste management systems, will further increase the input of plastic into the Arctic Ocean in the next few decades, and therefore, the input of plastic into the Arctic will increase much more than in the past. »

Apart from water, the atmosphere is also becoming increasingly polluted with microplastics. With a little calculation, it can be concluded that the equivalent of hundreds of millions of broken plastic bottles may affect the air of the United States alone. research conducted on an area of ​​plant-rich land in the Pyrenees in Europe, showed that in the 1960s, less than five atmospheric microplastics were deposited per square meter of land per day. Now this figure has increased to about 180.

Microplastics are easily transported in different environments. Research that has already been done, shows that there are 14,000 microplastics per liter of snow in the Arctic, and these materials entered the water from European cities and reached the ocean. Microplastics also reach the Arctic through the sea. When you wash your clothes, hundreds of thousands or even millions of synthetic fibers are separated and flowed along with the wastewater to water treatment facilities, and eventually, these pollutants reach the ocean.

Water currents then carry the microplastics northward, where they circulate and eventually settle with sediments. In May, Allen and other researchers reported that a single recycling facility may emit 3 million pounds of microplastics annually; And this figure was only for brand new facilities that treated running water.

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