Microplastics are seemingly everywhere — including Colorado’s snowpack | SummitDaily.com

Microplastics are seemingly everywhere — including Colorado’s snowpack

Samples from Colorado’s mountains find growing rate of shredded plastic fibers

Michael Booth
The Colorado Sun
The Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies Executive Director Jeff Derry collects samples of snow on Loveland Pass on July 18, 2022 outside Georgetown.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

COLORADO — As the focus on the electron microscope resolved, Richard Reynolds found himself feeling more resigned than surprised.

The slide before him was a snowpack sample collected from pristine Colorado high country. The sample revealed, at intense magnification, the snowpack’s expected sprinkling of rock fragments and spikey grains of sand.

It also revealed what shouldn’t have been there at all: long, straight, human-made fibers of plastic.

The sight confirmed what Reynolds, a retired U.S. Geological Survey researcher, and his colleagues had suspected after seeing snowpack studies from far away places: An invisible layer of microplastic blankets the Rocky Mountains, polluting our snowpack and our water in yet undefined ways.

“It seems to be everywhere,” said Reynolds, coauthor of a new study of the microplastics detected throughout the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Read more on ColoradoSun.com.

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