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A Risk Assessment of Microplastics and Associated Contaminants in Coastal Environments and Seafood in American Samoa
November 14 • 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Presented by Dr. Beth Polidoro, Assistant Professor, Environmental Chemistry, Arizona State University (website)
Abstract: Solid waste disposal is a massive concern among Pacific Island nations. With severe limitations in land area, in combination with the lack of reuse or recycling options, many near-shore marine ecosystems across Oceania are severely impacted by locally derived marine debris, including plastics, microplastics and associated chemical contaminants. In order to catalyze improved solid waste management and plastic use policies, the potential ecological and public health risks must be clearly identified and communicated. In this case study, I present results from a screening-level ecological and public health risk assessment of microplastics and associated contaminants conducted over the past 2 years in American Samoa. This methodology relies on field and laboratory studies to quantify the type and concentration of microplastics and associated hydrophobic contaminants in water, sediment and biota, followed by the generation of a series of risk scenarios based on current knowledge of toxicological impacts. Results are being used by local partners to develop improved environmental regulation, educational outreach, and marine conservation efforts in American Samoa. As seafood is an important source of protein in American Samoa and other Pacific Island nations, this study also provides a framework for community, scientific or regulatory agencies working in data-poor regions to conduct screening-level risk assessments using in-situ environmental monitoring studies at the local or regional scale.