by Sarah (Steve) Mosko, PhD
- E-the Environmental Magazine, 11-Mar & 07-Aug, 2013
- Fullerton Observer, Early Mar, 2013, p.11
- Southern Sierran News Blog, 05-Feb, 2013
- Algalita Marine Research Blog, 02-Feb, 2013
- Surf City Voice, 30-Jan, 2013
- Santa Monica Daily Press, 27-Jan, 2013
While plastic refuse on land is a familiar eyesore as litter and a burden on our landfills, in the marine environment it can be lethal to sea creatures by way of ingestion or entanglement. Now, an important new study adds to a growing body of evidence that ocean plastic debris is also a threat to humans because plastics are vehicles for introducing toxic chemicals of three sources into the ocean food web.
Two of the sources are intrinsic to the plastic material itself, introduced during manufacturing, and have been described in previous studies. The first is the very building blocks of plastic polymers, called monomers, which are linked during polymerization. However, polymerization is never complete, always leaving some monomers unattached and free to migrate out into whatever medium the plastic comes in contact, like foods/beverages or the guts of a sea creature that mistook it for food. Some monomers are known to be inherently toxic, like the carcinogen vinyl chloride that makes up polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, or the endocrine disruptor bisphenol-A (BPA) that makes up polycarbonate plastics.