Scientists from Plymouth University found microplastics thought to be harmful to health near the summit of Mount Everest. Scientists were surprised that microplastics were found in all of the snow samples collected.
Scientists came across microplastics on the world’s highest mountain, near the summit of Mount Everest, where oxygen was insufficient and called the ‘death zone’. The particles found at altitudes of more than 8,000 meters are believed to come from polyester, acrylic and nylon clothing.
Microplastics are known as particles smaller than 5 millimeters in length and are thought to have adverse health effects. Microplastic pieces, which are thought to have reached there due to the particles falling from the clothes of the mountaineers, may have risen to the summit of Mount Everest with the rotating air currents according to another view.
Microplastics were found in all of the snow samples collected:
Microplastics were found in all snow samples collected from 11 locations on Everest, from 5,300 meters to 8,440 meters high. While the area with the highest concentration of microplastics is the Base Camp area where climbers and hikers spend the most time, it was said that these pieces probably came from the clothes, tents and ropes used by the climbers.
As part of the study, scientists from Plymouth University collected 19 samples, 8 from stream water and 11 from snow. The results of the investigations found an average of 30 microplastic particles per liter in snow samples and 119 particles per liter in the dirtiest sample. Microplastic was found in only three of the stream water samples.
“I was really surprised to find microplastics in every snow sample I analyzed. Mount Everest is a place I always thought to be remote and unspoilt. It is truly astonishing to know that we are polluting places near the summit of the highest mountain,” said Imogen Napper, who led the study.
Microplastics were previously found in Antarctica, the Arctic region, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Alps. The effects on animals and humans when ingested are unknown and are therefore currently classified as ‘potentially harmful’.
We need to protect and care for our planet, Napper said, saying that many microplastics are poured from clothes made from synthetic fabrics, so there is a need to focus on better fabrics and natural fibers such as cotton as possible.