Styrofoam debris as a source of hazardous additives for marine organisms

There is growing concern over plastic debris and their fragments as a carrier for hazardous substances in marine ecosystem. The present study was conducted to provide field evidence for the transfer of plastic-associated chemicals to marine organisms. Hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs), brominated flame retardants, were recently detected in expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) marine debris. We hypothesized that if styrofoam debris acts as a source of the additives in the marine environment, organisms inhabiting such debris might be directly influenced by them. Here we investigated the characteristics of HBCD accumulation by mussels inhabiting styrofoam. For comparison, mussels inhabiting different substrates, such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE), metal, and rock, were also studied. The high HBCD levels up to 5160 ng/g lipid weight and the γ-HBCD dominated isomeric profiles in mussels inhabiting styrofoam strongly supports the transfer of HBCDs from styrofoam substrate to mussels. Furthermore, micro-sized styrofoam particles were identified inside mussels, probably originating from their substrates.

Mi Jang, Won Joon Shim, Gi Myong Han, Manviri Rani, Young Kyong Song, and Sang Hee HONG, Environ. Sci. Technol., Just Accepted Manuscript, April 21, 2016

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