Area of Study
Science and Mathematics
The plastics that make up over 10% of human waste are synthesized with phthalate plasticizers which are utilized in plastics as an additive to improve durability and flexibility. Many phthalates have been identified as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and studies have shown dramatic deleterious effects as a result of species exposure to growing numbers of EDCs in the environment. Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) are a northern hemisphere seabird species that forages opportunistically, meaning that they take advantage of a wide variety of different food sources, including inadvertent consumption of plastic. In addition to occupying space in the individuals’ stomach, these indigestible plastics may be leaching EDCs into their systems. For this reason fulmars are being used as a bio-indicator in multiple studies of marine plastics in both Europe and on the West Coast of the United States. Plastics from the stomach contents of fulmars will be classified into plastic type. The percentage of plastics ingested by fulmars that contain EDCs will be determined. A collaboration with the Long Marine Research Lab, which has archived samples of fulmars from Alaska and California, will allow for geographic comparisons of EDC concentration intensities along the West Coast. High concentrations of EDC-containing plastics found in the diets of Northern Fulmars may have significant implications for individuals currently in the populations as well as potentially cause multi-generational effects.
Feinstein, Olivia, "Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) as bio-indicators of endocrine disrupting plasticizers in the marine surface environment." (2012). Summer Research. 159.
University of Puget Sound