Method Detects Plastic Additive Contamination in Marine Organisms

Research from American Friends of Tel Aviv University has confirmed the presence of plasticizers and microplastics in marine life in the Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea.

“This is the first study that examines plastic additive contamination in marine organisms in the Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea,” said Gal Vered, a Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Professor Noa Shenkar. “Solitary ascidians are highly efficient filter feeders and are excellent examples of the state of pollution that affects many other marine organisms. Our findings are extremely disturbing. Even in protected beaches, there was evidence of microplastics and plastic additives in ascidians. In fact, at every sampling site, we discovered varying levels of these pollutants.”

The researchers developed a novel method for testing for additives in marine life. “Our new chemical analysis method can be used on a variety of soft-tissue marine organisms,” said Professor Shenkar. “We can now extract phthalates, an additive that’s used primarily to soften polyvinyl chloride, from organism tissues without contracting any background contamination from the laboratory equipment itself, which also has plastic components. This was a big challenge because the laboratory is actually a highly plastic ‘contaminated’ environment.”

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