NEWS: National park 'plastic study'

Scientists are now investigating levels of plastic pollution in all the UK’s national parks after microplastics were found at the top of Snowdon.

Campaigner Laura Sanderson (pictured) will swim nearly 1,000 km through all 15 of the UK’s national parks to collect hundreds of water samples, which will be analysed at Bangor University in North Wales. She was inspired to organise the challenge after an initial swim last year found tiny pieces of plastic in Lllyn Glaslyn at the very top of Snowdon -  the highest mountain in England and Wales. Dr Christian Dunn, a senior lecturer at Bangor University, said: "We found water from Lllyn Glaslyn had an average of three pieces of microplastic per litre - although this is a small amount it’s worrying because it’s at the very top of a mountain.

"We want to see just how widespread the problem is and look at waterways in all our national parks."

"Concentrations of these microplastics then increased steadily as Laura swam downstream towards the coast. "The sort of data we’ll get from this expedition is essential; as we need to learn all we can about microplastics in our waterways if we are to have any hope of tackling the problem," Laura Sanderson, who runs the open water swimming company We Swim Wild, said "Last year we swam 26 km from a lake at the top of Snowdon down the river system all the way to the coast.

"We were horrified when we were told the water we'd collected along the way had microplastics in them. "So now we want to see just how widespread the problem is and look at waterways in all our national parks. "I’m hoping to start this March and so I’m training pretty much every day." Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Agianst Sewage which is part of the study, said: "Because Laura is swimming through the rivers, lakes and coastline of the national parks it gives us a unique opportunity to collect water samples from places that we’d struggle to reach any other way. "Several of us from Surfers Agianst Sewage will be helping with the analysis and joining Laura along the way, though she’s the only one prepared to swim the full 980 kilometres  - so good luck to her!"

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