A team of San Diego State University researchers have received a prestigious award from The California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) for their project “Assessing Fate and Toxicity of Microplastics Under Coastal Environmental Conditions”. The research team was one of two awardees across the state; made up by Dr. Eunha Hoh and Dr. Kari Sant from School of Public Health’s Division of Environmental Health, and Dr. Natalie Mladenov from the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. COAST will award them with $399,406 to address Research Objective #2, Ecotoxicology, from the state’s highest priority science information needs in microplastics and microfibers.
With a diverse research background within the research team, from environmental pollutants’ health impact, to water contaminants’ health consequences and tobacco exposure, the team will bring an innovative approach to expand research work on microplastics’ absorption of chemicals. Studies have shown the dissolving of 23,600 metric tons of organic carbon percolating from marine plastics, yet the mechanisms of toxicity these compounds have on marine organisms have not yet been studied.
The research will specifically utilize non-targeted analysis as the primary tool to detect chemicals associated with microfibers and tire wear particles; part of their three primary research goals to evaluate the dissolution of chemicals in seawater. Their remaining two primary research goals being 2. to elucidate mechanisms of aquatic toxicity produced by leaching chemicals from the new and aged microplastics, and 3. to identify chemicals responsible for toxicity. Studies of Zebrafish embryotoxicity using leachates will be performed, and the analysis of gene expression will be used to evaluate mechanisms of toxicity.”