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New Study on Marine Plastics Does Not Find Significant Increases of Chemicals in Lab Fish Despite Much Higher Doses for Two of Three Chemicals Tested


Contact: Allyson Wilson (202) 249-6623  
Email: allyson_wilson@americanchemistry.com

WASHINGTON (November 22, 2013)A new study on specific chemicals and marine plastics conducted by Rochman, et. al., investigated laboratory exposures of fish fed a diet containing marine plastics contaminated with certain chemicals. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following statement:

Plastics do not belong in our oceans, and we’re committed to reducing marine litter. We’re also committed to better understanding how chemicals and microplastics interact in the marine environment, so we look forward to reviewing this study in greater detail. While the findings of this lab study are interesting, we note that the study used higher concentrations of chemicals than are typically found in the environment, and the degree to which chemicals adsorb and desorb from plastics depends in large part on the physical/chemical properties of the specific chemical and type of plastic, the concentrations of both, and the ability of the fish to absorb, distribute, metabolize and excrete the substance. Thus, this lab study does little to answer important questions about what happens in the real world environment.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been looking into this issue and has said that microplastics are unlikely to be an important source for Persistent Organic Pollutants such as PCB, dioxins, and DDT.1 A recent study published in Environmental Science & Technology examined the effects of plastic on bioaccumulation of POPs and concluded:

  Given this difference and the small magnitude of the calculated effects, we conclude that the role of plastic in bioaccumulation of POPs is scientifically interesting but probably not very relevant from a risk assessment perspective.2  

To increase scientific certainty, we and our colleagues at PlasticsEurope are helping to support a comprehensive scientific assessment of microplastics in the marine environment being conducted by a U.N. group, NOAA and other international agencies.3

We also believe it is important to prevent plastics from becoming marine litter in the first place. That’s why ACC and over 50 associations from more than 30 countries launched an effort in 2011 to prevent marine litter. Since that time the industry has launched more than 140 projects to address this.

To lean more, please download the “Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter (2011)” and our “Progress Report (2012).”

1 Proceedings of the International Research Workshop on the Occurrence, Effects, and Fate of Microplastic Marine Debris (see p. 14)

2 Plastic as a carrier of POPs to aquatic organisms: A model analysis, Albert Aart Koelmans, Ellen Bsseling, Anna Wagner, and Edwin M. Foekema, 11 June 2013. (see page 15)

3 http://www.gesamp.org/

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