I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Nah, not exactly.
Apparently, however, the researchers are gobsmacked with the fact that they’re finding plastic particles in arctic snow. To be fair, the quantities they are reporting are staggering, but the notion that microplastics can be carried on the wind is not completely new. Other studies have shown that tiny plastic particles and fibers can be transported aloft and travel from one side of the planet to the other before returning to Earth via precipitation.
In 2015, as part of the water sample collection on the Path of the Puyallup expedition, the first sample was taken just below the toe of the Puyallup Glacier, high on the western flank of Mount Rainier. The plastic fibers contained in that sample were proof that even a pristine mountain environment is not pristine at all. It would have seemed impossible not too long ago, but now it is just another example of how little we actually know for sure.
For years, all the while as we watched the effects of ingested plastics spread upward through the food webs, bioaccumulating in the apex populations of other species, there was a reluctance to consider that humans might be at risk as well. As if we were somehow separate from our environment in ways that other animals are not. Turns out, the science says that’s not the case. To wit: “… humans might not just be injesting microplastics in our food but also inhaling them in the air we breathe. Chronic inhalation of microplastics could lead to health risks including respiratory irritation, inflammation and fibrosis.”