DV-19-05 Perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) and phthalates in marine mammals found in the Gulf of Maine adjacent Canadian waters: relevance to human health

Dr. Sean Todd
College of the Atlantic

Perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) and phthalates are persistent organic pollutants, toxic chemicals that are mostly resistant to degradation and can accumulate over periods of time in an environment. The effects of these toxins are unknown for marine mammals, but have been linked to developmental problems and immunosuppression in humans and other wildlife. Marine mammals are apex predators of the marine food webs and are therefore good indicators of whether humans and wildlife are being exposed to harmful levels of PFAS and phthalates.  

Researchers at the College of the Atlantic are investigating potential toxins that could be affecting Maine’s ocean ecosystems. Researchers will collect samples of phytoplankton and zooplankton, seawater, and marine mammal tissues in order to determine the concentrations of PFAS and phtahlates in the Gulf of Maine. In addition, researchers plan to engage community members in these issues, form partnerships with local fishermen, and collaborate with other researchers in the field who specialize in this area of study. 

Sea Grant Funds: $5,000