Microplastics found near the summit of Mount Everest: study

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It is possible that microplastics were blown on Everest from elsewhere in the Himalayan winds: study (file)

Kathmandu:

Traces of microplastics have been discovered near the summit of Mount Everest, a study showed Friday, likely from equipment used by the hundreds of climbers who reach the world’s highest peak each year.

Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing gear, empty gas cans and even frozen droppings have long littered the well-traveled route to the 8,848-meter (29,029-foot) summit, earning it the name of “the tallest dumpster in the world”.

But in the first everest microplastics study, by a research team part of the 2019 National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest expedition, the tiny pollutants were found up to 8,440 meters above the level of the sea, although the concentration levels were higher at the base of the mountain. camp.

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The results, which reveal the potential threat to Everest from plastic pollutants, were published in the environmental journal One Earth on Friday.

“The samples showed significant amounts of polyester, acrylic, nylon and polypropylene fibers,” author Imogen Napper, a National Geographic explorer and scientist based at the University of Plymouth in Britain, said in a statement. .

“It really surprised me to find microplastics in every sample of snow that I analyzed. Mount Everest is a place that I have always considered isolated and pristine. Knowing that we are polluting near the top of the tallest mountain (in the world) is a real eye opener. “

– Environmental scourge –

The majority of outdoor clothing worn by hikers and climbers on Everest is made of synthetic fabrics. Tents, climbing ropes and other equipment also use the materials.

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“We strongly suspect that these types of items are the main source of pollution rather than things like food and drink containers,” Napper said, referring to the garbage buildup at the top after decades of mountaineering. commercial.

Last year, a 14-member team spent six weeks searching for trash at Everest Base Camp and Camp 4 – nearly 8,000 meters above sea level.

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They cleared the mountain of four bodies and over 10 tons of plastic bottles, cans and climbing equipment.

The study also suggests that it’s possible that microplastics found on Everest were blown there elsewhere in strong Himalayan winds.

Researchers also found microplastics in streams below the famous Himalayan peak, but the concentration was lower than in snow.

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Last year, scientists reported tiny plastic particles deposited on every square meter of an uninhabited high-altitude area in the Pyrenees straddling France and Spain every day.

Plastic waste and the tiny particles in which it is broken down has become a major environmental scourge in recent years.

It is estimated that up to 12 million tonnes of plastics enter the world’s oceans each year, with millions more clogging inland waterways and landfills.

Scientists are only now beginning to measure the damage to wildlife and the potential impacts on human health.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)

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