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CGI's Liam77: How Microplastics Are Contaminating Seabirds in Remote Regions of Alaska

Posted By: RumorMail
Date: Wednesday, 28-Feb-2018 14:50:42

From CGI member Liam77:

full article: https://eraoflight.com/2018/02/28/how-microplastics-are-contaminating-seabirds-in-remote-regions-of-alaska/

A decade of research has found that the muscles and eggs of birds in the far-flung Aleutian Islands contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates from plastics the animals have ingested, prompting Alaskan tribes to begin testing native foods for contamination. Coal mines had their canaries. When it comes to microplastics in the ocean, Alaska has its seabirds.

A nearly decade-long University of Alaska project to monitor the ecology of puffins, crested auklets and other seabirds that flock to the storm-tossed Aleutian Islands has produced crucial baseline information about microplastics contamination in marine waters off Alaska.

Of more than 200 Aleutian birds initially examined, nearly 1 in 5 turned out to have some type of organic materials in their stomachs, researchers found.

Further investigation revealed that plastic contamination goes well beyond items in birds’ guts.

Nearly all of the birds subsequently examined tested positive for at least one type of phthalate in their muscle tissue, said Veronica Padula, a PhD candidate focusing on plastics contamination. There are many types of phthalates, but Padula tested the birds for the six that are considered high priorities by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Phthalates are widely used to make plastics softer, more flexible or more durable. They are found in flooring, cosmetics, medical devices and a broad array of other products. Once ingested, phthalates can mimic hormones and interfere with reproductive functions.

It is not yet clear how the phthalates got into the birds – direct ingestion of plastic, eating other creatures that consumed the debris or through some other type of exposure.

“This is like a Pandora’s Box and it just begs more questions all the time,” Padula said at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium, held in January in Anchorage. “What it does say is these anthropogenic compounds are in the environment and that these birds are exposed to them in some way, which is meaningful when you consider the fact that they’re endocrine-disrupting compounds.”





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