Plastic pollution seems to have found a new way to creep into the natural landscape.
Scientists have discovered a strange, never-before-seen type of pollution they have called "plastic rust", which appears to originate from the sea and directly adhere to rocks along the coast of the Portuguese island of Madeira.
"probably came from the crash of large pieces of plastic against the rocky shore, which resulted in plastic crusts similarly rocking algae or lichens," Ignacio Gestoso, a marine ecologist who led the research told Earther.
Gestoso first noted the strange crusts on the island's shoreline in 201
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"Plastic debris is one of the most comprehensive pollution problems our planet faces today and a particular concern for the conservation of marine environments," the researchers said in their study abstract. "The dimension of the problem is so great that it is possible that our current era will generate an anthropogenic marker horizon of plastic in the earth's sedimentary record."
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Although it is unclear how the effect of "plastrustrust" is for the marine life near the coast that takes it, it is certainly possible that it can cause problems with digestion or introducing other contaminants, according to Earther.
Gestoso said that future research would examine how much plastic goes to the shoreline's grazing snails.
"As a marine ecologist, I prefer to report other types of findings and not a paper describing this sad new way of contaminating plastics," Gestoso told the science news site. "Unfortunately, the scale of the problem is so large that few sites are free of plastic contamination."
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