According to the study, ‘the findings highlight human impacts in the most remote areas of the Earth’.
Researchers have found small plastic particles known as “microplastics” on Mount Everest, demonstrating how the material can travel to distant parts of the world, according to a new study published in One Earth Journal.
Climbing equipment, hikers ’clothing and wind may be the source of the microplastics found on Earth’s highest mountain, the researchers in the study said.
The end of the dangerous trek to the record-breaking mountain has become increasingly popular, and with that popularity comes increased pollution from climbers, the study found.
“Old tents, fixed ropes, used oxygen bottles, human debris, tins, cups and papers left behind by previous expeditions” have all been found on the mountain, the researchers found. Some types of clothing can also shed microplastic particles, which can be carried by the wind.
The study, which was organized by the National Geographic Association and supported by Rolex, is part of the watchmaker “Permanent Planet Initiative, “which conducts research and promotes environmental causes.
Scientists do not yet know what impact these microplastics could have on the planet, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.
In general, the particles are less than five millimeters long, the size of a sesame seed, according to NOAA. They usually end up in nature as a result of plastic-filled products, which decompose over time into smaller particles.
Some types of microplastics, such as “microbes” previously found in hygiene products, are intentionally small. In 2015, President Obama banned the use of microbes in cosmetics and personal care products.
Although the environmental impacts of microplastics are still unknown, the National Geographic / Rolex study shows to prove that particles can also be harmful to humans.
“If ingested, microparticles … can accumulate and exert localized particle toxicity by stimulating or boosting an immune response,” the researchers said.
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