Ellrich & Ehlers MICRO 2020.pdf (3.54 MB)

Plasticrusts and pyroplastic: two novel plastic debris types detected in Giglio island, Italy

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posted on 23.11.2020, 20:46 by Julius A. EllrichJulius A. Ellrich, Sonja M. Ehlers

Plasticrusts and pyroplastic are novel plastic debris types that have only recently been reported for the first time from Madeira island (NE Atlantic Ocean) and the southern United Kingdom, respectively. While plasticrusts seemingly result from plastic debris being wave-swept across rugose rocks, pyroplastics derive from burnt plastic waste. During field surveys, we detected plasticrusts on a wave-exposed rocky shore and pyroplastic on a wave-sheltered sandy beach in Giglio island, Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. At the lab, we identified the plasticrust material as polyethylene (PE) and the pyroplastic material as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) using state-of-the-art Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. These polymers are widely used in everyday products and, therefore, heavily contribute to plastic pollution in the Tyrrhenian Sea and other aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. While plasticrusts might be ingested by co-occurring grazers (such as intertidal snails and crabs), pyroplastic can release toxic substances (e.g., lead) that are potentially harmful to plants, animals and humans, equally. Therefore, the recent accumulation of plasticrust and pyroplastic reports along European shorelines is concerning. Thus, we propose that plasticrust and pyroplastic occurrence should be monitored and that the effects of these novel debris types on marine and terrestrial organisms should be examined.

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