General, Research, Technology

Details of the LEGO constructor can tell about our life in a thousand years

The oceans are inundated with millions of tinyplastic LEGO pieces, and these toys, which became plastic pollutants, will not go anywhere in the near future. It is known that in order to disintegrate, LEGO parts take from 100 to 1300 years. In other words, our descendants, quite possibly, will study us from the remnants of a children's designer in the same way as we today study the life of ancient Egypt from fragments of amphoras and ancient frescoes. So how do LEGO parts get into the oceans?

LEGO residues can stay in water for up to 1300 years

How many years does plastic decompose in water?

In 1997, nearly 5 million Lego parts felloverboard one of the container ships transporting a popular children's designer for sale to countries of sale. The event, which polluted the environment quite strongly, can be supplemented by the fact that more than 2 million blocks of the popular designer were flushed down the toilet by children from the 1990s to the present. Getting first into the sewers, and then into the oceans, a huge number of LEGO parts can still swing in the waves, according to sciencealert.com.

Over the past decade a number of voluntaryorganizations such as the LEGO Lost at Sea project have extracted thousands of plastic parts from the ocean, but if these toys are really as strong as new research suggests, millions of parts from the popular designer will continue to float in the waves for centuries.

LEGO is one of the most popular children's toys inhistory, and part of its incredible demand has always been longevity, says Andrew Turner of Plymouth University, who studies the chemical properties of marine litter.

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The classic LEGO designer piece is madefrom acrylonitrile butadiene styrene - a hard polymer characterized by high wear resistance. And, although the material has for decades confirmed its qualities when used in everyday life, its active use has already caused more than enough harm to the environment. In order to provide clear evidence for this, scientists compared the chemicals in the weathered samples of 50 LEGO blocks found on the beaches of southwestern Great Britain with similar designer blocks in their original state.

Although the weathered blocks from the beach showedsmall degrees of damage, the researchers were surprised to find most of the toys safe and sound. Analysis of the samples also showed that their age is about 40 years, and the minimum degree of damage to parts would allow them to stay in water for at least several hundred years.

Despite the fact that a long stay in the water noticeably smoothed the edges of the parts of the designer, they still remain more than recognizable

Study authors acknowledge that plasticmaterials, such as the aforementioned acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, are still too little studied for the duration of their “life” and no one knows what will happen to them in the long run. However, due to the fact that the basic qualities of the material for the LEGO constructor coincide with those of ordinary plastic bottles, this heavy-duty material is likely to put marine life at a certain risk.

If mankind manages to survive at leastthousand years, our descendants will surely be able to learn a lot of interesting things from the life of their distant ancestors. For example, even if they didn’t care at all about the environment and its inhabitants, throwing into the water not only a lot of obscure plastic parts, but also much larger things that have not broken into microplastics for millennia. Be that as it may, humanity always has a chance to change everything if each of us starts to get rid of used objects correctly, thus not creating many potential problems for the future planet.