Knowledge gaps on trends in Arctic plastic pollution

Publisert: 20. november 2019

The body of literature presently available on plastic pollution in the Arctic demonstrates that this emerging contaminant presents a problem also in this remote region.
Examples for knowledge gaps of the distribution, transport, and impact of plastic litter in Arctic systems. Red arrows = plastic litter input, yellow arrows = transport pathways, orange arrows = food web transfer.

Claudia Halsband, Akvaplan-niva, and Dorte Herzke from NILU –  Norwegian Institute for Air Research has recently published an article in the journal Emerging Contaminants.

The title of the publication is “Plastic litter in the European Arctic: What do we know?”

The scientists found that despite an exponential increase in available data on marine plastic debris globally, information on levels and trends of plastic pollution and especially microplastics in the Arctic remains scarce.

The few available peer-reviewed scientific works, however, point to a ubiquitous distribution of plastic particles in all environmental compartments, including sea ice. In the article, they review the current state of knowledge on the sources, distribution, transport pathways and the fate of meso- and microplastics with a focus on the European Arctic and discuss observed and projected impacts on biota and ecosystems.

The publication is an extension of the 2016 Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme – AMAP assessment Chemicals of Emerging Arctic Concern. The work is partly financed by the Fram Centre Flagship “Hazardous substances – effects on ecosystems and human health”.

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