Contamination by plastic debris has been documented in most regions of the world, but their occurrence in high mountain areas has not been investigated to date. Here we present the first report of the occurrence and amount of microplastic in any terrestrial glacier environment. In the supraglacial debris of the Forni Glacier (Italian Alps), we observed the occurrence of (mean ± standard error) 74.4 ± 28.3 items kg−1 of sediment (dry weight). This amount is within the range of variability of microplastic contamination observed in marine and coastal sediments in Europe. Most plastic items were made by polyesters, followed by polyamide, polyethylene and polypropylene. We estimated that the whole ablation area of Forni Glacier should host 131–162 million plastic items. Microplastic can be released directly into high elevation areas by human activities in the mountain or be transported by wind to high altitude. The occurrence of microplastic on Forni Glacier may be due to the gathering of debris coming from the large accumulation area into the relatively smaller ablation area of the glacier, as a consequence of its flow and melting.

Ambrosini, R., Azzoni, R., Pittino, F., Diolaiuti, G., Franzetti, A., Parolini, M. (2019). First evidence of microplastic contamination in the supraglacial debris of an alpine glacier. ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, 253, 297-301 [10.1016/j.envpol.2019.07.005].

First evidence of microplastic contamination in the supraglacial debris of an alpine glacier

Ambrosini R.;Pittino F.;Franzetti A.;
2019

Abstract

Contamination by plastic debris has been documented in most regions of the world, but their occurrence in high mountain areas has not been investigated to date. Here we present the first report of the occurrence and amount of microplastic in any terrestrial glacier environment. In the supraglacial debris of the Forni Glacier (Italian Alps), we observed the occurrence of (mean ± standard error) 74.4 ± 28.3 items kg−1 of sediment (dry weight). This amount is within the range of variability of microplastic contamination observed in marine and coastal sediments in Europe. Most plastic items were made by polyesters, followed by polyamide, polyethylene and polypropylene. We estimated that the whole ablation area of Forni Glacier should host 131–162 million plastic items. Microplastic can be released directly into high elevation areas by human activities in the mountain or be transported by wind to high altitude. The occurrence of microplastic on Forni Glacier may be due to the gathering of debris coming from the large accumulation area into the relatively smaller ablation area of the glacier, as a consequence of its flow and melting.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Alpine glacier; Microplastics; Mountain areas; Supraglacial debris;
English
2019
253
297
301
reserved
Ambrosini, R., Azzoni, R., Pittino, F., Diolaiuti, G., Franzetti, A., Parolini, M. (2019). First evidence of microplastic contamination in the supraglacial debris of an alpine glacier. ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, 253, 297-301 [10.1016/j.envpol.2019.07.005].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/240408
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