As part of the INTERACT international project scientists based in Yugra State University conduct joint research with their counterparts from France and the UK. The major concern is to take soil samples to detect traces of microbiota (bacteria contents) and microplastics – plastic particles spreading out with the wind and water flow.

Yuanita Mora-Gomez and Fabian Leroy Alexander, scientists representing the University of Orleans, France together with supervisor Chris Freeman, and Evgeny Zarov, head of the Laboratory of Environmental Geoinformatics at Yugra State University are conducting research at Mukhrino field station. They will perform a part of the research in the village of Shapsha and nearby the city of Khanty-Mansiysk within a 50-km radius to compare the concentration of microplastics therein.

Recall that microplastics are an invisible issue spanning the whole planet. The danger is that microplastics are neither naturally decomposable nor recyclable since it is impossible to collect them in the environment. When laundering, using cosmetics and performing other habitual actions, the smallest plastic particles drain into the water. First, they get into the sewage system followed by water reservoirs, then may potentially end up in animals bodies, and finally in those of humans.

Being harmful not just by their nature microplastics can accumulate synthetic dyes, pesticides, flame retardants and other toxic components. Having done so, they can cause inflammatory processes in the body, and adversely affect the reproductive functions as well. It is the synthetic fabrics that discharge the maximum amount of microplastics into the environment. As much as 60% of garments contain artificial fibers, with polymer microparticles being washed out as we do the laundry.

– All this poses quite an urgent problem of our time because the plastic itself remains inert and can decompose for as long as thousands of years, rapidly spreading out into the Arctic. We need to understand the reason, find out how much and how far it reaches, and what we have to do to deal with it, – Evgeny Zarov commented on the issue.