ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
75°
Mostly Cloudy
H 80° L 69°
  • cloudy-day
    75°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 80° L 69°
  • cloudy-day
    80°
    Today
    Mostly Cloudy. H 80° L 69°
  • heavy-rain-day
    80°
    Tomorrow
    Chance of Rain. H 80° L 69°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

World
Pure as snow? Scientists say air carrying plastics to Arctic
Close

Pure as snow? Scientists say air carrying plastics to Arctic

Pure as snow? Scientists say air carrying plastics to Arctic
Photo Credit: Juerg Trachsel/WSL-Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung SLF via AP
This undated photo provided by the 'Helmholtz centre for polar and marine research the Alfred Wegener institute' shows snow samples from Tschuggen, Switzerland, locked and ready for transport to Davos. Scientists of the institute say they proved plastic in the snow of the Alps and the Arctic. (Juerg Trachsel/WSL-Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung SLF via AP)

Pure as snow? Scientists say air carrying plastics to Arctic

Scientists say they've found an abundance of tiny plastic particles in Arctic snow, indicating that so-called microplastics are being sucked into the atmosphere and carried long distances to some of the remotest corners of the planet.

The researchers examined snow collected from sites in the Arctic, northern Germany, the Bavarian and Swiss Alps and the North Sea island of Heligoland with a process specially designed to analyze their samples in a lab.

"While we did expect to find microplastics, the enormous concentrations surprised us," Melanie Bergmann, a researcher at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, said.

Their findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Previous studies have found microplastics — which are created when man-made materials break apart and defined as pieces smaller than 5 millimeters — in the air of Paris, Tehran and Dongguan, China.

The research demonstrated the fragments may become airborne in a way similar to dust, pollen and fine particulate matter from vehicle exhausts.

While there's growing concern about the environmental impact of microplastics, scientists have yet to determine what effect, if any, the minute particles have on humans or wildlife.

Bergmann, who co-authored the study, said the highest concentrations of microplastics were found in the Bavarian Alps, with one sample having more than 150,000 particles per 1 liter (0.26 gallons.)

Although the Arctic samples were less contaminated, the third-highest concentration in the samples the researchers analyzed — 14,000 particles per liter — came from an ice floe in the Fram Strait off eastern Greenland, she said.

On average, the researchers found 1,800 particles per liter in the samples taken from that region.

Martin Wagner, a biologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who wasn't involved with the study, said the extremely high concentrations could be partly attributed to the methods the researchers used, which allowed them to identify microplastics as small as 11 micrometers, or 0.011 millimeters — less than the width of a human hair.

"This is significant because most studies so far looked at much larger microplastics," he said. "Based on that, I would conclude that we very much underestimate the actual microplastics levels in the environment."

"Importantly, the study demonstrates that atmospheric transport is a relevant process moving microplastics around, potentially over long ranges and on a global scale," Wagner added. "Also, snow may be an important reservoir storing microplastics and releasing it during snow melt, something that has not been looked at before."

Bergmann said the microplastics detected in the study included varnish that may have been used to coat cars and ships, rubber found in tires and materials that could have originated in textiles or packaging.

The authors suggested that the airborne distribution of microscopic plastic particles has so far been neglected as a source of contamination and should be monitored in standard air pollution monitoring schemes.

"We really need to know what effects microplastics have on humans, especially if inhaled with the air that we breathe," Bergmann said.

Read More

News

  • A new environmental foundation backed by Leonardo DiCaprio is pledging $5 million in aid to the Amazon, which has been swept by wildfires. >> Read more trending news  According to The Associated Press, Earth Alliance, an environmental foundation that was created last month by DiCaprio and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth, launched the Amazon Forest Fund.  The alliance is also seeking donations to help repair the Brazilian rainforest, called the “lungs of the planet.” Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84% over the same period in 2018. The funds will be distributed to five local groups working to combat the problem: Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida, Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon, Instituto Kabu, Instituto Raoni and Instituto Socioambiental. Backed by military aircraft, Brazilian troops are deploying in the Amazon to fight fires that have swept the region and prompted anti-government protests as well as an international outcry. Brazil contains about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, whose degradation could have severe consequences for global climate and rainfall. Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who has said he wants to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms, won office after channeling outrage over the corruption scandals of the former government. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A large crowd gathered Sunday morning at RiverScape MetroPark for a service hosted by Kanye West. >> Read more trending news  Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and their children held the Sunday Service in support of the victims and survivors of the mass shooting at the city of Dayton’s historic Oregon District. Several other celebrities, including Dave Chappelle and Michael Che, of “Saturday Night Live,” also were seen at the service, which lasted about two hours. “The best way we can honor our fallen is by getting up better than we were before,” Chappelle told the crowd. “We won’t let those people die in vain.” Two attendees said they had a great time at the service this morning. “It was really fun. I actually got to be a part of the Sunday Service choir,” Chaelyn Allen said. “We been rehearsing for, like, a few days this week, so it was really fun.” “I think it was awesome, a great cause,” Shantel Wilder said. “It feels good to be a part of it.”
  • Disney is completely reinventing Epcot. At its D23 expo in Anaheim, California, this weekend, the company announced some major changes coming to the park. >> Read more trending news  The company kicked off its announcements with Journey of Water, Inspired by 'Moana.' The attraction will let guests 'interact with magical, living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting.' The upcoming 'Guardians of the Galaxy' ride finally has a name. The company announced it will be called 'Guardians of the Galaxy': Cosmic Rewind. It will feature 'the first reverse launch into space.' In the park's Mission Space pavilion, the company announced a new restaurant called Space 220. It will open this winter and is described as 'an out-of-this-world culinary experience with celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up.' The United Kingdom pavilion in the World Showcase will welcome the first attraction inspired by 'Mary Poppins' in Cherry Tree Lane, the company announced. We don't know a lot about this attraction other than it will be the first for the United Kingdom pavilion. The park also announced a new pavilion at World Celebration. It will be the home base for Epcot's signature festivals, providing a view of the World Showcase. The company said it will be a three-level structure and will become a new icon for Epcot. Finally, the company announced a new nighttime spectacular called 'HarmonioUS.' It is said to be the largest nighttime show created for a Disney park. Disney said it will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people around the world. For more information, visit the Disney Parks Blog.
  • Firefighters came to the rescue of a dog that got stuck on a roof overnight Saturday in Everett, Washington.  South County Fire tweeted that the dog went out an open window onto a narrow roof and couldn't turn around to get back in. Firefighters were able to get the scared pup back inside.
  • The Cocoa Beach Police Department arrested Joseph McKinney, 40, of Texas, after he allegedly threatened to conduct a shooting at a hotel. >> Read more trending news  Investigators said McKinney was taken into custody after he got off a cruise ship at Port Canaveral on Sunday morning.  Police responded to the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Hotel on Friday after the hotel received an electronic guest review expressing McKinney’s displeasure about his recent stay, according to police. Officers said McKinney’s review contained threatening language and made reference to an “active shooter style” event at the hotel. McKinney was charged with making written threats to kill, do bodily injury or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. He was transported to the Brevard County Jail and is being held on $25,000 bail.
  • Atlanta police last week released a video showing a suspect in a shooting at a block party at the Atlanta University Center that wounded four students. No one has stepped forth to identify that man, so on Sunday, Atlanta City Council member Cleta Winslow said she is adding $3,000 more in reward money to better incentivize someone’s good citizenship. The reward will now be $5,000. “This is personal,” Winslow said after a short press conference near the AUC campus. “Parents send their children to our town. They need assurance that they are safe.” Four women — two students from Spelman College, two from Clark Atlanta University — were shot or grazed Tuesday night outside the Robert W. Woodruff Library during a party before the first day of school. Police believe the young man in the video was involved in a confrontation in which four or five shots were fired in the plaza crowded with 200 students. Police said that perhaps a second possible gunman was targeted by the suspect but that the women were not intended targets. One of the victims was shot in the chest, but all are expected to recover. Police said they are getting some tips but have not gotten enough information to make an arrest. Longtime civic activist Michael Langford said, “I want to appeal to the community at large because no crime occurs without someone knowing, hearing or seeing something. “And while the money is there, I want to appeal to your moral conscience to come forward because the only thing it takes for evil to exist in our community it for good people to sit back and do nothing.” Winslow said she had just met with student leaders to assure them of their safety. Both Atlanta and Atlanta University Center police said they have beefed up patrols in the areas that area. » RELATED: Concerns on Atlanta campuses after shooting » RELATED: Tighter campus security