'It’s been raining plastic in Canada, researchers have found in the last two years.
And no one knows where it’s coming from. Or what it can do.
A U.S. survey published in May, made headlines around the world last week due to its eye-catching title, “It is raining plastic.” According to the survey, geologists researching the effects of nitrogen pollution, unwittingly found tiny plastic fibres, beads and shards within rainwater samples collected from the remote slopes of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Denver, Colorado, located 1,763 km away from Canada.
“It wasn’t entirely surprising to find them in an urban environment,” said Gregory Wetherbee, the study’s lead researcher, “but when we saw them in the remote areas of the mountain, we started to become a little more surprised at those results.”
Although the topic of microplastics — plastic particles smaller than five millimetres long, the size of a breadcrumb — is one in its infancy, research into the topic has proven the extent to which plastic pollution has pervaded the planet’s most remote corners.
Liisa Jantunen, who has been researching microplastics in the Canadian Arctic and Great Lakes since 2017, says the survey’s discovery is more common than one might think. “We’ve been collecting snow in places like Whitehorse, Alert and Eureka as well as in Southern Ontario and we’ve found microplastics in all our snow samples, often in microfibre form,” she said.
The presence of microplastics isn’t confined to snow samples. “We’ve also found them deep in the ocean sediment and in plankton,” she said. “Everywhere we look, we find it.”
Read more: It’s raining plastic in Canada, scientists say. But no one knows the source or toxicity
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