Ecotoxicity Of Marine Plastic Debris

Ecotoxicity Of Marine Plastic Debris

Nature (founded in 1869) is a prestigious, peer-review weekly, international scientific journal founded in 1869.

Chelsea M. Rochman (Aquatic Health Program, University of California, Davis), Eunha Hoh (Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University), Tomofumi Kurobe (University of California, Davis) and Swee J. The (University of California, Davis) published a paper in Nature entitled Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress.

The researchers describe how toxified plastic from the ocean can have negative impacts on fish tissue, which are part of the food chain.

This is a direct result of our work on the 2009 expedition of Project Kaisei and subsequent work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Chelsea Rochman was on our expedition, and it is significant that her follow-on study with the EPA shows that there can be an impact in fish from just 30 days of exposure to plastic which has toxins on it from exposure in polluted seawater,” explains Doug Woodring.

The article, Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress, begins, “Plastic debris litters aquatic habitats globally, the majority of which is microscopic (< 1 mm), and is ingested by a large range of species. Risks associated with such small fragments come from the material itself and from chemical pollutants that sorb to it from surrounding water. Hazards associated with the complex mixture of plastic and accumulated pollutants are largely unknown. Here, we show that fish, exposed to a mixture of polyethylene with chemical pollutants sorbed from the marine environment, bioaccumulate these chemical pollutants and suffer liver toxicity and pathology. Fish fed virgin polyethylene fragments also show signs of stress, although less severe than fish fed marine polyethylene fragments. We provide baseline information regarding the bioaccumulation of chemicals and associated health effects from plastic ingestion in fish and demonstrate that future assessments should consider the complex mixture of the plastic material and their associated chemical pollutants…”

It is great to see the collaborative efforts of an open water swimmer like Doug Woodring lead to scientific studies and published papers that can help improve the marine ecosystem. His Plastic Disclosure Project is nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year (for more information, visit here).

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones