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What Research Reveals About Microplastics and Toxin Exposure to Goldfish

Posted by SusanStokes on January 12, 2024

The presence of plastics in our oceans and waterbodies is one of the most significant threats to marine ecosystems. A research study led by Dr. Cheol Young Choi from National Korea Maritime and Ocean University was revealed in a press release. They explored the impact of microplastic and BaP exposure on freshwater goldfish (Carassius auratus) who were exposed to BaP and microplastics individually and in combination in order to understand the goldfish exposure effects. The focus was on the goldfish’s stress response, including stress-related genes, cortisol levels, and DNA damage.

The study revealed heightened stress responses to the freshwater goldfish including increased DNA damage, and liver abnormalities in goldfish, highlighting a serious consequence of environmental pollution. 

Researchers reveal that Benzo[α]pyrene (BaP) classified as a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, stands out as a pollutant with significant concern. BaP is produced as a byproduct of fuel and combustion processes. Previous studies have reported BaP to be responsible for the induction of physiological stress and DNA damage in fish and other marine organisms. 

According to the press release, in 2022, plastic production exceeded 400 million tons globally, and this number continues to rise. Microplastics range in size from 100 nanometers to 5 millimeters. Because of their small size, they can travel long distances in the oceans and can easily be ingested by a wide range of marine organisms, resulting in their accumulation in the food chain. The BaP also has the ability to absorb and carry harmful chemicals, such as persistent organic pollutants, which is yet another dangerous aspect of microplastic pollution. 

Another concern is the the slow degrading ability and carcinogenicity of the microplastics and other pollutants. Their accumulation in aquatic ecosystems can lead to enhanced toxicity in organisms who absorb these chemical substances. It is imperative we have a greater understanding the extent of toxicity and threat posed by the combined impact of exposure to microplastics and other pollutants to marine life. This is essential for developing more effective and targeted strategies to deal with this multifaceted problem.

This is concerning, because it shows that everyday pollutants, often found together in natural environments, can interact in particularly harmful ways, amplifying the negative effects they have on wildlife,” says Dr. Choi, explaining the findings.

The concentration of these pollutants in our aquatic ecosystems is of concern for implications of both marine life and human health. This study brings to light new evidence that emphasizes the importance of considering their combined effects with other pollutants.

SOURCE: Press Release, Korea Maritime and Ocean University, South Korea