Antarctica in danger: according to a study led by the British Lancaster University, toxic pollutants buried in the snow of Antarctica are on the increase. In recent decades, compounds have accumulated in particular forever chemicals, indicating their ability to resist for a long time in the environment and thus polluting it for a long time.
Anna Jones of the British Antarctic Survey organization, co-author of the study, explained: "These findings remind us that our industrial activities have global consequences. Antarctica's snow and ice are key archives of our ongoing impact on the planet." The discovery comes from a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, which identified that these pollutants are substitutes for CFCs, substances used for a long time as refrigerants and then banned because they are the origin of the ozone hole.
Antarctica: pollutants in snow and ice are on the rise
The researchers, led by Jack Garnett, extracted ice cores from the Queen Maud Land Plateau in East Antarctica. Carrots, which provided data for the period from 1957 to 2017, which showed that these chemical compounds have increased their concentrations in recent decades.
According to the scientists, these pollutants arrive in Antarctica through the release of precursor compounds into the atmosphere by industrial plants. The precursors spread in the atmosphere and, reacting with light, transform into PFAS, which then also fall on this remote continent in the form of snowfall.
The most abundant substances are perfluoro alkyl, very strong acids used in liquid form, with a chemical structure that makes them particularly resistant. They are used in many sectors, from leather tanning to non-stick pans, from waterproof clothing to cardboard for food use.
With an area of 14 million km², plus 1.5 million km² of barriers, it is the fourth largest continent in the world. By convention, the geographical boundary is delimited by the so-called Antarctic convergence, the latitude where the subtropical surface waters sink.
The area between 50 ° and the Antarctic polar circle is defined as subantarctic. On average it is the coldest place on Earth and with the largest reserves of fresh water on the planet. The territory has the highest average altitude above sea level of all continents.
Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual rainfall of only 200 mm along the coast, and much less in inland regions. The continent is crossed by the 3,500 km long Transantarctic Range which extends from Cape Adare to the Land of Coats.