Microplastics: even the Arctic is contaminated, according to OGS
Microplastics – microscopic plastic fragments threatening the health of our seas – do not spare the Arctic Ocean, until now considered uncontaminated.
This is what emerges from a study recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, which also involved Italian researcher Valentina Tirelli from the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics (OGS). The results were obtained through the analysis of samples collected in the course of an expedition in June 2014 off the coast of Svalbard, in Norway, during which the Italian researcher worked together with Amy Lusher, researcher at the Irish Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT).
The analysis of the samples, carried out at the OGS laboratories, revealed the presence of microplastics and zooplankton abundance in the Arctic surface and sub-surface waters. These elements induce to consider the high risk of microplastics entering the Arctic food chain. It was found that 95% of microplastics collected are composed of fibres: this evidence suggests that the fragments may either derive from larger plastic items used in recreational fishing or industrial activities, or that they may have been brought to Svalbard’s waters only later, transported by ocean currents.