A new kind of plastic waste disguises itself as ordinary stones

The scale and danger of contamination of the planet with plastic debris urgently needs to be reconsidered, because now it is able to disguise itself as other objects and therefore remain invisible. We are talking about the material "pyroplastic", which is indirectly created by nature itself, although it is alien to it. Scientists have no idea how much of it has already accumulated in the world, but samples have been found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in vast areas.

Environmental scientist Andrew Turner of the University of Plymouth and his colleagues examined 165 pieces of plastic from the beaches of Whitsund Bay in Cornwall, Britain. And then they compared them with samples from Spain, Ireland and the Orkney Islands. They found that pyroplastics mostly consist of polyethylene, interspersed with polypropylene. These are standard materials for packaging, they have become the raw material from which nature creates pyroplastics.

After examining the samples, the scientists concluded that the original polymers first melted or softened strongly, and then were eroded by waves and wind. Because of this, they have become very similar to ordinary pebbles, pebbles on the beaches, but only in shape and appearance. Inside it is the same plastic, and it contains enough harmful impurities, such as lead chromate, which was previously used to dye colorless polymers. This confirms the theory about the age of pyroplastics, because such additives have been banned for many years, and the erosion process is also not fast. This means that newly discovered pollutants have been formed for a long time - for tens of years, no less.

At the moment, scientists cannot offer an effective method for detecting pyroplastics. After all, sifting millions of tons of sand and pebbles in search of "fake" pebbles is absolutely impossible. Experts are inclined to think that it will be necessary to isolate pyroplastic as a separate type of pollution, the impact of which on nature has yet to be studied.