For nearly ten years it began to detect that the sands of the beaches in the canary islands also make up between them the remains of plastic. Really, what is happening now may not be a surprise if from the fifty has increased the use of plastic to reach now a production estimated annual 340 million tons of plastic brand new. Of all this, it is also estimated that close to 8% just directly in the sea.
In the full path of the current atlantic of the north, which moves in the direction of the needles of the clock from Canada, through the United Kingdom and crashing by the shore western european, The canary islands is leading the only academic study of the Macaronesia on the consequences the integration of the microplásticos in the marine ecosystem and on the earth.
It was in 2018 when a group of researchers from the University of La Laguna (ULL) opted to develop Implamaca project with european funding in which participates the University of Las Palmasalso the Cape Verde, Azores and two research centers of Madeira.
Among all, add, thirty-two researchers that, from the University lagunera coordinate to conclusion a map of black dots and analysis of the effects of the microplásticos before 2022 (further extendable), when it is expected to be completed on budget one million three hundred forty thousand euros.
Officially the project has started in the summer of 2019, and until then, “any of these groups had already monitored microplásticos in any of its beaches. When we started talking, we conclude that there is a source of contamination common by our geographical position and that we could do a joint investigation”. This was the initial approach of Javier Hernandez, a professor of Analytical Chemistry of the ULL which insists on the need to raise a study based on these materials.
The microplásticos are part of what is called in the academic field, as waste marine and that “sonly see a one percent” according to the analysis of several studies that have served as the basis for starting this research.
“Some types of plastic, such as pvc, tend to go to the fund; the remainder, less than five millimeters, they remain on the surface moving from one side to the other by sea currents; they also form columns that, in reality, it is a state of transition toward the bottom or toward the surface,” notes Hernandez.
In his laboratory of the faculty of chemical, they work formally from the month of October 2019. Then I began the analysis of each of the twenty-five beaches that want to testalthough there are in the Canary islands three black dots detected “without the need of in-depth analysis”.
When asked about it, this professor of Analytical Chemistry department of the higher centre, he lamented that “it is evident that the beach Famara in Lanzarotethe Beach of Amber in La Graciosa and Big beach in Tenerife” they are fully affected. In fact, they are locations that “guarantee” to observe the effect of the microplásticos on the coast in practically “any time of the year” although with special incidence in the months of spring and autumn.
“Are beaches with facing north or northeast that are affected by your location and by the weather conditions. We want to convert the municipality of Arico, in a symbol of our investigation and that goes beyond the analysis of the costa; in other phases of the project we will also investigate its consequences on the high seas”, emphasizes Hernandez.
In fact, the picture in Playa Grande it is so devastating because the reaction is usually the same for those who approach her. Despite their “crystal clear waters” says the project director Implamac that during the celebration of one of the courses of the Summer University of Adeje, the reaction was expected: “to them fell the soul to the ground to see that the microplásticos were clearly all over the beach. There was silence the work that day there”.
The washing machines, the main generators of nanoplásaticos
The concern for the microplásticos be seen in the beaches affected, but in the face of these fragments of between one and five millimeters, broken down by the incidence of the light of the sun, the crash against the rocks, by temperature changes or the effect of oxygen, also, is added to the nanoplásticosthe less than one micron in size.
“On this scale, the collection, quantification and detection are complicated: Our clothing releases many synthetic fibers through the washes. The washing machines of the house are our major releasers of synthetic fiber for the environment. The problem is it makes us much higher because it is much more sparse and we have problems to detect it,” says Hernandez.
If the nanoplásticos escape into the natural environment of our sight, no more than observe the add usual washing, which is the dryer. What is commonly referred to as “lint” are in reality large amounts of synthetic fibers accumulated and compacted in their filters.
It is not usual, but if a person occurred to him to dilute in a glass of water, a portion of those ‘lint’ to be invisible to the human eye, it is true that science still has no answer to know its effects: “it Is one of the major lines of research that remain today. What we know is that when a marine organism ingests an microplástico with a large size can cause a tear and lead to death. In contrast, with the more small and that do not excrete, pass to the digestive tract and see if you then have any effect”.
In addition, the nanoplásticos accumulated in the sea to uncover another of the most serious problems from the environmental perspective. These materials accumulated act as preconcentradores toxic as DDT, other pesticides or related compounds with solar filters and they have also been detected in any of the remains discovered in the Canary islands.
“It is not a matter of alarm. There are some authorities that regulate when a compound is used with a particular purpose and are sold only if these studies determine that it is safe for the health. Which do not pose problems, it does not mean that it is not convenient to their monitoring: will be studies that determine whether to replace a compound or not and the authorities that implement it,” recalls Hernandez.