Nepali climbers have retrieved four bodies and collected some 11 tonnes of decades-old garbage from Mount Everest and its approach below the base camp as part of a drive to clean up the world’s highest mountain.
Climbers returning from the 8,850-metre mountain say its slopes are littered with human excrement, used oxygen bottles, torn tents, ropes, broken ladders, cans and plastic wrappers left behind by climbers, an embarrassment for a country that earns valuable revenue from Everest expeditions.
The garbage, along with the bodies of some of the 300 people who have died over the years on Everest’s slopes, are buried under the snow during winter, but become visible when the snow melts in summer.
Humans on Earth eat at least 50,000 particles of microplastic on average each year and inhale a comparable amount as well, according to new research that looked at data from 26 previous studies. Some experts estimate the level being absorbed by people is actually much higher.
The plastic pollution is entering the human food chain and environment due to the disintegration of plastic bags, bottles and other litter, which has now reached virtually every corner of the planet.
Another study cautions that pathogens and other organisms have been found to grow on microplastics in fresh water, posing a potential threat to the health of humans and wildlife.