Microplastics found in Antarctic sea ice for first time, scientists say
The particles found were still relatively large in size suggesting that they had come from local pollution
By Louise Boyle
Microplastics have been found in Antarctic sea ice for the first time, scientists say.
The study, published in the May edition of the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, analysed an ice core collected in East Antarctica in 2009. Some 96 tiny particles of plastic were identified from 14 different types of polymer.
However the particles were still relatively large in size suggesting that they had come from local pollution and had less time to break down than if they had been swept a long way by ocean currents.
The ice core came from sea ice attached to land and averaged almost 12 microplastic particles per litre.
Because the microplastics were trapped in the sea ice, the particles remained for longer near the surface, increasing the chance of them being consumed by krill, a small, shrimp-like crustacean that is a food source for larger marine mammals further up the food chain.
There is also a human health risk from plastic entering the food chain with nearly a billion people around the world consuming seafood as their primary source of protein.