Researchers have coined a term for a new type of pollution that is harming our oceans; a mix of tar and microplastics, which they call plastitar.

Source: InformativosTvc/Youtube

A team of researchers in the Canary Islands discovered plastitar when they were combing the shores of Tenerife in the Canaries. They continued to find clumps of hardened tar with tiny colorful fragments of microplastics.

“No longer is the presence of plastic in the environment limited to microplastics or a bottle in the sea,” said Javier Hernández Borges, associate professor of analytical chemistry at the University of La Laguna in Tenerife, who coined the term plastitar. “Now it’s giving rise to new formations; in this case, one that combines two contaminants.”

Over two years after plastitar was first discovered, new research on the mixture has labeled it an “unassessed threat” to coastal environments.

“It acts like Play-Doh,” Hernández Borges said. “And when waves carrying microplastics or any other kind of marine debris crash on to the rocks, this debris sticks to the tar.”

The researchers linked the presence of the dangerous mixture to the archipelago’s location, which is a key shipping route for oil tankers.

Although more research needs to be done to assess plastitar’s impact on the environment, researchers think that the combination of hydrocarbons and microplastics means it could leak toxic chemicals which could be harmful to marine life and fragile underwater ecosystems.

Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic every year, 78 percent of which is NOT reclaimed or recycled. Around  8.8 million tons of plastic get dumped into the oceans every year! 700 marine animals are faced with extinction due to the threat that plastic poses to them in the form of entanglement, pollution, and ingestion. 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs. By 2050, 99 percent of all seabird species will have ingested plastic waste. According to a study by the World Economic Forum, there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and if things go on business as usual, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

Read more about how companies like Facebook, Tupperware, Google, Dove,  Budweiser, Carlsberg, and FIJI Water are working towards reducing plastic pollution. Places around the world like Tel Aviv, California, Baltimore, Scotland, and many more are banning various single-use plastics, and others are coming up with creative ways to recycle and use plastic waste.

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