The Greenland core is often considered to be one of the most pristine and untouched areas of
the planet: yet, as it turns out, even this heaven of wilderness may not be as pure as it seems.
For the first time, researchers from Utrecht’s, Copenhagen’s and Bruxelles’ universities have
in fact found nanoplastic in both the North and the South pole regions. The study suggests
that this plastic waste has been containing polar ice for decades now, therefore exposing
many organisms around the world to contamination.
Nanoplastics, defined by scholars as plastic particles smaller than a micrometer, are
considered to be even more toxic than microplastics since their size make it easier for them to
be carried by the air and get even more fragmented in the environment.
While digging 14-meters deep to collect ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, significant
amounts of nanoplastics were found. It’s no news: nanoplastics have been pullulating in these
areas since the 1960s but we are only now becoming aware of them thanks to the
technological improvements of the last decades.
More than half of the particles are of polyethylene, one of the most common plastics that can
be found in single-used packaging materials. Another common material is polyethylene
terephalate, also known as polyester, used in the clothing industry and plastic bottles.
Plastic pollution is one of the most triggering problems since, as studies suggest, nano and
microplastics can easily travel around the planet causing adverse effects on organisms
exposed to it. Among these there is delayed development and subcellular change, whereas in
human beings exposition to plastic waste can lead to cell damage and inflammation. Further
research needs to be done to better assess their toxicity level and nanoplastics’ contribution to