While we know where the plastic comes from, the source of this particular tar is unknown.But generally, whenever oil spills, it floats and partially evaporates, thickening over time tar balls, and washed ashore. It’s basically a highly toxic Play-Doh. “Once it sticks to the rock, the waves will bring microplastics or any garbage and push it into this Play-Doh,” Hernández-Borges said. “Microplastics keep, keep, keep coming. We find the same microplastics in tar that we find on the coast.” These tiny fragments add to the toxicity of plastic, which contains thousands of its own chemicals substances, many of which are known to be toxic to humans and other animals.
The researchers haven’t been able to say what effect plastic might have on the creatures living on the beaches of the Canary Islands. But the problem may be twofold. “If there was algae or anything, the rocks would be completely covered, so they would definitely die,” Hernández-Borges said. Second, plastic is darker than rock, which means it absorbs more solar energy. “If you touch it, you’ll find it’s also very, very, very hot,” he said. This could significantly raise ground temperatures, with unknown effects on the organisms living there.
In a previous study of a remote Pacific island, an independent team of researchers found plastic particles Raise the temperature of the beach sandThis could endanger sea turtles, whose sex is determined by the temperature of the sand where they lay their eggs – if it’s too hot, they can all turn into females, which is bad for a species’ sexual reproduction.
The discovery of plastic adds another layer of complexity to the problem of ocean plastic pollution. For a long time, environmentalists were mostly concerned with big things, like floating bottles and bags. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that scientists began to seriously study microplastics, and subsequently discovered that nearly the entire planet was polluted. Particles fly through the atmosphere, reaching the highest peaks. In the sky, they could have an impact on climate — though it’s unclear whether they’ll ultimately help heat or cool the planet. People are eating and drinking large amounts of microplastics, and babies are drinking more in their formulas, but scientists are just beginning to study what this might mean for human health.
Even recently, researchers have been discovering “new plastic structures” in which plastics are only the latest. For example, when plastic burns in a beach bonfire, it forms a rough polymer matrix mixed with sand and other debris. “Plasticrust” is formed in a similar way to plastitar, when ocean waves pulverize plastic into coastal rocks, just without the involvement of tar. (The high heat outside heats the rock, which can help the synthetic material blend in.) Scientists are starting to study what they call orangutans, or new sedimentary rocks made of plastic and other man-made materials. “If someone finds one of these rocks thousands of years from now, they might find plastic, and they’ll see how we lived,” Hernández-Borges said. “So it’s a geological record.”
And—because someone would think – to be very clear, we should no Take inspiration from plastitar to remove microplastics from the ocean. “I read this and went Do not,” Allen said. “Some idiot out there will go: Just spread the oil all over the surface and clean it up. but not. “