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PFAS and microplastics (which are made of petrochemicals) have been linked to nervous system problems, hearing loss, cancer, reduced fertility, and hormonal imbalances. Now, scientists confirm that the number of harmful microplastics making their way up the food chain may be far more than previously thought.
The Food Chain: Researchers at the University of Portsmouth noticed that many microplastics studies in coastal waters failed to account for common nutrient and bacterial buildup on plastic beads and particles.
Researchers coated microplastics with an E.coli biofilm to observe uptake rates by oysters. They found that oysters contained ten times more microplastics when exposed to biofilm-coated beads.
“What we’ve discovered is that microplastic really is the Trojan Horse of the marine world,” said Dr. Joanne Preston, Reader in Marine Ecology and Evolution at the University of Portsmouth. “We know microplastics can be the mechanism by which bacteria are concentrated in coastal waters, and this shows that they are more readily taken up by shellfish and can be transferred to humans or other marine life.”
Researchers say that this study is only the start of a broader conversation about microplastics and PFAS in our oceans and environment. “This opens the door for more research on environmentally relevant studies of the long-term impacts of biofilm coated microplastics on a wider range of marine life,” said Preston. “We also need to study the transfer of microbes up the food chain via plastics in much greater detail.” Other researchers agree; Professor Steve Fletcher, Director of the University’s Revolution Plastics initiative, said, “the findings in this research give us further insight into the potential harm microplastics are having on the food chain…It is clear that further study is urgently needed.”
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer This week, the medical journal Lancet published their annual report on health in relation to climate change, subtitling it: “code red for a healthy future.” The report delves beyond the obvious effects of wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather events — looking at food security; livelihoods; human physical and mental […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The EPA announced Monday that it will move toward regulating perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — manmade “forever chemicals” — that don’t naturally break down and can contaminate both air and water. These chemicals, found in various household products, from dental floss to nonstick pans, can also be harmful […]
The editors of over 230 medical journals said in a statement on Monday that climate change is a health issue and that its effects could become “catastrophic” if world leaders don’t do more to address it. The health impacts of climate change include wildfire smoke–which has been linked to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases–and pollutants […]
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