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Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Microplastics detected in snow and ice

German and American scientists have detected plastic microfibers in samples of snow and ice collected in the Arctic. The researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven have found microplastics in snow samples from Bavaria, Bremen, the island of Helgoland, the Swiss Alps and the region of the North Pole.

The researchers’ working assumption was that microplastics are carried in the atmosphere and washed out of the air and brought down to the ground by snow. It has been common knowledge for a long time that pollen travels in the same way from temperate climates all the way to the Arctic. Microplastics and pollen are of a similar size. Sahara sand can also travel up to 3500 kilometres through the air to the North Atlantic region.

The researchers measured the
highest concentration of microplastics along a road in Bavaria, at 154,000 particles per litre. Snow from the
Arctic ’only’ had 14,400 particles
per litre.

The types of plastic found varied with the regions tested. Along the road in Bavaria, most of the
plastic particles were from synthetic rubber from the tyres of cars. In the Arctic, the nitrile rubber
used in pipelines, acrylates used in glue, and paint particles were found in the snow, the scientists reported in their paper published in the science periodical Science Advances.

A group of scientists led by American researchers found plastic particles in ice samples collected from ice floes of the Northwest Passage. Plastic was found, for instance, in the ice samples from Lancaster Sound in the Canadian Arctic. Until now, the sound was believed to be relatively well-protected from
the plastic waste carried by ocean currents.

“When we look at it up close and we see that it’s all very, very visibly contaminated when you look at it
with the right tools — it felt a little bit like a punch in the gut,”

said Jacob Strock, a researcher with University of Rhode Island.

Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven collect snow samples in the Arctic Photo: awi.de
Further information: EcoWatch

The Pacific cleanup may succeed

The system created by a Dutch inventor called System 101, whose first trial run, conducted a year ago, had failed, has started collecting plastic waste on the Pacific again.

Hungarian innovation to filter pharmaceutical residues

Many studies worldwide have shown that the active compounds of medications are released into the environment with wastewater and can easily be reintroduced into the human food chain from there. Filtering these residues out is an increasingly acute concern, but, thankfully, the world of science has already responded to the problem.

Garbage from Asia has inundated an island in the middle of the Atlantic

Researchers from Canada and Africa have found a massive amount of plastic bottles, originating form Asia, mainly from China, on Inaccessible Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean. The bottles were probably discarded into the water and then washed up on the island from cargo ships passing the region.

Pharmaceutical residues in Hungarian waters

In Hungary, too, the active ingredients of various medications are discharged continuously into the environment with wastewater, so they can now be detected in surface and underground waters as well as in soils.

What can we do against pharmaceutical residues in our waters?

After being introduced into human and animal organisms, some pharmaceutical compounds are secreted via urine unchanged, and then, through wastewater, those compounds may reach surface waters that serve as drinking water supplies, representing a risk for both aquatic ecosystems and for the purity of drinking water.

Microplastics from an unexpected source

We’ve known for a long time that plastic food packaging, wearing car tyres and clothing made of synthetic fibres are all sources of microplastic pollution. However, a new study has identified a new source of pollution in our kitchens, or more precisely in our teacups.

Steroids in the water?

Despite the continuous development of wastewater treatment technologies, the complete removal of synthetic pharmaceuticals using the three-step method currently in use is yet to be achieved. A number of researchers are working to improve the efficiency of the removal of these molecules from the present value of 10 to 30 percent.

EU campaign to clean up beaches worldwide

As part of a campaign launched by the European Union, which culminated on 21 September, International Coastal CleanUp Day, marine waste washed up on beaches is collected in more than 80 countries on all inhabited continents, the European Commission has announced.

The creation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

This astonishing video is about the creation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is twice the size of the state of Texas.

Radioactive water to be dumped in the Pacific Ocean?

On 11 March 2011, Japan suffered a magnitude 9 earthquake, which also impacted the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Since then, more than a million tonnes of radioactive water has been collected from the damaged cooling system of the plant, but the tanks will be filled to capacity by 2022.

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