CGG has successfully conducted a microplastics pollution survey as part of a scoping study into whether it would be possible to create a Plastic Free zone on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).
Partneriaeth Yr Wyddfa (the Snowdon Partnership) led by the Snowdonia National Park Authority aims to increase public awareness of plastic pollution on the UK’s most visited mountain and consider the practicalities of introducing Plastic Free Areas in the National Park.
Variable amounts of microplastic pollution were identified in all the soil samples collected along the busy Llanberis Path to the summit of Snowdon in April 2021 and analyzed by CGG at its Geoscience Laboratories in North Wales for microplastic quantification and identification. A new, innovative sample preparation and analysis workflow was used for rapid, mass sample screening to identify high concentrations of microplastic significantly faster than with existing manual and optical identification methods. This workflow can be used to calculate the volume, size and shape of plastic particles within a sample.
The results were used to determine a Microplastic Pollution Index, that is designed to help organizations, local authorities or government agencies identify areas of plastic leakage and wastage where microplastics may be entering the food chain or natural environment. On Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), the largest amounts of microplastic were observed where people congregate in large numbers. Microplastic particles constituted nearly 5% of the total sample collected at the summit. These were predominantly small, highly-abraded particles formed from the fragmentation of larger plastic material and fibers shed from clothing.
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