195100 Plastic marine debris in the food chain: Implications for human health

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tamara L. Adkins, MPH , Environmental Studies Department, Antioch University New England Graduate School, Conway, MA
In this poster, I will describe what is known about the human health implications of plastic marine debris in the food chain. The UNEP estimates that over 13,000 pieces of plastic litter float on every square kilometer of ocean. Moore et al estimate that the ratio of plastic to zooplankton by dry weight in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is now 47 to 1. As plastic marine debris accumulates in the water, it also appears to be accumulating in the marine biota. Synthetic polymers contain many known toxicants, such as phthalates, bisphenol-A, lead, antimony, and flame retardants. As Takada et al showed, plastic has the potential to concentrate persistent organic pollutants up to one million times the concentration found in ambient seawater. Among other adverse effects, each of these chemicals has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system, causing abnormalities in sex ratio, the age at which sexual maturity is attained, and the physiology of the reproductive system. Focusing on polyvinyl chloride and its constituent phthalates, bisphenol-A, and organolead, I will review the literature across several disciplines to gather data on its environmental fate, its presence in the marine food chain, and look for evidence of endocrine disruption in marine species known to be exposed. I will assess what the potential implications are for human exposure, and pose questions for further research.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain how plastic marine debris concentrates persistent organic pollutants. 3. Identify endocrine disrupting chemicals present in plastic marine debris. 4. Discuss the potential implications for human health.

Keywords: Environmental Exposures, Toxicants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am researching this topic for my doctoral dissertation. I have been employed with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.