Maine's love for blue tarps is iconic but recent research is could show the environmental impact on these 'Maine-stays' in the Pine Tree State.
Blue tarps in Maine
Maine has a history with our blue tarps. Drive down any stretch of road and you are bound to see one of these temporary (sometimes long-term) covering solutions on a roof, over a car, or just draped on a lawn.
The iconic blue tarp is so engrained in Maine culture, a play was written and performed at Penobscot Theatre called 'One Blue Tarp'.
Microplastics found in Maine snails and slugs
University of Maine student research has uncovered troubling effects suspected from Maine's iconic blue tarps. It's an effect that may threaten our wildlife, livestock, and humans, too.
Research conducted by PhD Ecology and Environmental Sciences student, Rachel White, showed that blue microplastics, perhaps from Maine's iconic blue tarps, are being found in snails. This result came as a surprise in her research about parasites found this anomaly that should have Mainers thinking twice about their blue tarp needs.
Her research was focused on gastropods, such as slugs and snails, transmitting parasites to wildlife, livestock, and humans. One of these parasites of concern is called 'brain worm', which can cause maturing worms to develop in the brains of animals. This can not only have a direct effect on wildlife and livestock in a biological sense but also affect costs of farming and environmental impacts as well.
While the research in the video does not mention the suggestible 'blue tarp' finding, an interview with the Bangor Daily News mentions the surprising finding. While microplastics were found during the research, it was not conclusive that the microplastics were from blue tarps in particular. But, nearly all microplastics found in the slugs and snails during the research were colored blue from specimens collected from all over the state.
Why be concerned?
Snails and slugs are eaten by deer and livestock, which, as a result, can be eaten by humans. This means the presence of Maine's iconic plastic tarps could potentially be ingested in humans as a result of the natural food chain. The effects of ingesting microplastics can result in exposing humans to harmful chemicals.
We know how prevalent our plastic tarps are here in the state so, it's also important to know how exactly these blue beauties may be impacting our environmental and own health in the future.