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June 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 48, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Pathogens in the Ocean?

from the June, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

We know that microplastics affect marine life and even get into the flesh of the fish you eat, but now there's more trouble. You see, scientists at the University of California, Davis, have discovered that harmful pathogens can hitch a ride on plastic particles shed through laundry cycles or on cosmetic products flushed into the sewer and carry these pathogens to sea, where they endanger marine life and reshape the natural food web.

The pathogens include Toxoplasma gondii, which comes from cat feces and causes toxoplasmosis in people, which leads to severe health conditions and life-threatening illnesses. The UC Davis team has documented the effects of the parasite on ocean life. It can be fatal to sea otters, dolphins, and seals. Crypto and Giardia parasites, meanwhile, cause gastrointestinal disease and pose the risk of death in young children and immunocompromised people.

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, the research proves the increasing dangers of microplastic and why we must eliminate microplastic sources plaguing our oceans.

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