Mount Everest CHAOS: Alarm at microplastics ‘from explorers’ polluting mountain
Snow at Base Camp and streams along the trekking routes close to the Khumbu Glacier are also affected. Samples collected revealed substantial amounts of polyester, acrylic, nylon and polypropylene fibres. The materials are being used to make high-performance clothing worn by climbers, as well as their tents and ropes.
Researchers say the fibres, the highest of which were found on the balcony of Everest at 27,690ft, could have fragmented from larger items during expeditions.
But they said the plastics could also have travelled from lower altitudes, as extreme winds regularly sweep up the mountain’s higher slopes.
Countries, including Nepal, are imposing regulations on climbing expeditions in a bid to tackle the environmental problems caused by waste.
Study lead author and National Geographic explorer Dr Imogen Napper said: “Microplastics are generated by a range of sources and many aspects of our daily lives can lead to microplastics entering the environment.
“Finding microplastics near the summit of Everest is a timely reminder that we need to do much more to protect our environment.”