Italian Alps contaminated by microplastics

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Italian Alps contaminated by microplastics

Microplastics (primary and secondary) have been found to persist in the environment in large quantities, especially in marine and aquatic ecosystems. This is because plastic deforms but does not break for many years, it can be ingested and accumulated in the body and tissues of many organisms.

The entire cycle and movement of microplastics in the environment has not yet been studied in depth, especially due to the difficulty of analyzing a mixture of various types of more or less inert plastics. The United States has been identified as the country with the highest contamination rate: values ​​reaching up to 94%, with fibers found in tap water also sampled in the buildings of the United States Capitol (Capitol in Washington), at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and even in Trump Tower in New York.

Followed by countries such as Lebanon and India. European nations such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France have a lower rate of contamination, even if the presence was found in 72% of cases. As regards the concentrations detected, the average number of fibers in half a liter varies from 4.8 units in the United States to 1.9 in Europe.

It is a contamination distributed more or less evenly in every part of the globe, regardless of the place of supply. The problem also arises in other countries, such as Italy, where the concentration of microplastics in a biome such as the Alps begins to become worrying.

The study: Microplastic Contamination in Snow from Western Italian Alps, published on the International journal of environmental research and public health, said us: "Recent studies have documented the presence of microplastics (MPs) in remote areas, including soils or sediments collected in mountain and glacier environments, but information on their presence in snow is scant.

The present study aimed at exploring the presence of MPs in residual snow collected in four locations of the Aosta Valley (Western Italian Alps), with different accessibility and human presence. Overall, the µ-FTIR analyzes confirmed the presence of 18 MPs in snow, 7 (39%) items were fibers, while 11 (61%) were fragments.

Polyethylene (PE; 7 MPs) was the main polymer, followed by polyethylene terephthalate (PET ; 3 MPs), high density PE (HDPE; 3 MPs), polyester (2 MPs), while only 1 MP made by low density PE, polypropylene and polyurethane were found.

0. 39 ± 0.39 MPs / L and 4.91 ± 2.48 MPs / L, with a mean of 2.32 ± 0.96 MPs / L for the sampling locations. The concentration of MPs did not statistically differ among locations. Our results suggest that MPs presence in high-mountain ecosystems might depend on deposition through atmospheric precipitations or local sources due to human activities.

For these reasons, policies aiming at reducing plastic use and dispersal in mountain areas may be effective in preventing local MP contamination. "