Plastics, Pathogens and Baby Formula: What’s in Your Shellfish?


New UCI-led study finds coastal urbanization increases contamination in seafood.

The first landmark study using next-generation technology to comprehensively examine contaminants in oysters in Myanmar reveals alarming findings: the widespread presence of human bacterial pathogens and human-derived microdebris materials, including plastics, kerosene, paint, talc and milk supplement powders.

The study — led by scientists from the University of California, Irvine, in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund, Cornell University and the University of Queensland — was conducted in the eastern Andaman Sea through partnerships with local researchers in Myanmar in the densely populated but still rural Tanintharyi region. The study concludes that coastal urbanization and lack of sewage treatment increases contamination in seafood and can cause potential health risks to humans, even large distances from pollution sources.

Study results appear in Science of the Total Environment.

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