August 30th 2019

Succesful Master Thesis

Sophia Mützel, now a graduate of the Master's programme in Biotechnology, spent her last semester at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven. With a group of fellow scientists, she analysed snow samples from the Alps to the Arctic with regard to their concentration of microplastics. Even in very isolated areas, they found a considerable amount of fine microplastic particles, including rubber, acrylates and polyethylene. These substances are mainly used in construction and packaging materials. In the Alpine region, the maximum concentration was 154,000 particles per litre of snow. It is still unclear how the substances reach the remote regions but the scientists assumed that the particles are transferred atmospherically. Also the effects of microplastics in snow on human health have not yet been sufficiently researched.

Sophia Mützel recorded her results in her Master Thesis, which was supervised by Dr. Gunnar Gerdts (AWI) and Dr. Alexander Trockenbacher (MCI). Her corresponding paper "White and Wonderful? Microplastics prevail in snow from the alps to the arctic" was published the renowned scientific journal Science Advances. The German Tagesschau also took up the environmentally relevant topic in August. We congratulate Mrs. Mützel on this success!

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