Plasticrust: A new form of pollution found on rocks along coastlines

You are on a beach, contemplating the rocks along the coastline. No algae or periwinkle moss can be seen on the sea cliffs, but there is a strange blue-tinged layer, which is unlike any living species. And for good reason: they are in fact fragments of plastic rejected by the oceans, then encrusted in the rocks. The word “plasticrust” refers to a new form of pollution, first identified in 2016 by Portuguese biologists. We take a closer look at the term and the phenomenon.

This shocking discovery was made in 2016 by Portuguese scientists from the Lisbon Environmental and Marine Science Center (MARE), during an expedition to the island of Madeira, located in the southwest of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. Upon their return to the capital, the researchers decided to study these fragments more closely. They returned to Madeira Island several times between 2017 and 2019 and found that this new form of pollution was widespread.

In June 2019, the research team published a study titled “Plasticrusts: A Potential New Threat in Anthropocene Rocky Coasts”. Based on their research, they calculated that these plastic crusts covered 9.46% of the rocky surface of Madeira Island.

A combination of images showing the “ plasticrust ”, identified in 2016. – AFP

Shortly after the publication of this study, the term plasticrust began to spread virally in the media. The word may make some people laugh because of its sound. But the existence of the phenomenon to which he refers is not at all amusing. Because if plasticrust has been spotted on the island of Madeira, it is probably not the only place in the world where it can be observed.

Thanks to their analysis, they found that the fragments observed in the rocks were mainly made of polyethylene, a family of plastics used for the manufacture of many everyday objects (packaging, bags, bottles, etc.). “We are convinced that this is not an exclusive case of Madeira, and most likely this new phenomenon will be reported in other parts of the world,” the scientists behind the discovery said, according to CNN.

And indeed, a post from Germany last year reported that plastic scabs were detected on the Italian island of Giglio alongside another type of new plastic debris, pyroplastics, formed from of burnt plastic waste.

With it is estimated that over 310 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally each year, and as many as 12 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the oceans each year, it is no surprise that the term plasticrust has come about. made its mark. – AFP Relaxnews


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