Contaminants and Health

Atlantic YellowfinTuna. Photo from NOAA-NMFS

Atlantic YellowfinTuna. Photo from NOAA-NMFS

The oceans are a repository for global pollutants. In turn, our own exposure to these ocean pollutants is often directly linked to our consumption of seafood. For example, elemental mercury in the atmosphere is deposited in the oceans through atmospheric processes and converted to organic mercury by microbes in sediments. Organic mercury persists, by binding to intracellular proteins, and rapidly moves up the food chain where it accumulates to high levels in long-lived fish. In turn, we humans are exposed to mercury when we eat those fish. There is urgent need to measure the scale of the ocean pollution problem and to determine the extent to which it presents a threat to human and environmental health through consumption of seafood.

This research targets a gap in knowledge of how industrial chemistry influences our food supply through global marine pollution. Results will give us a better understanding of the scope of the seafood pollution, specifically focusing on identification of modern industrial chemicals.

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