Are you eating fish contaminated with methylmercury and other chemicals used in making plastic? You might be, due to bioaccumulation. This is when low concentrations of chemicals in water collect in the bodies of aquatic creatures like plankton and fish. These are then consumed by the next step up in the food chain, which collects even more concentrated chemicals, and so on and so forth. Those chemicals then reach your food, and can cause cancer, heart problems, and other issues.

How does Bioaccumulation impact water?
When plastic gets into our water supply it’s not good. Over time, it often causes a buildup of toxic chemicals in everything from the alge floating on the surface to the humans that are drinking it.

This picture shows how bioaccumulation and biomagnification impact the environments around them.

This picture shows how bioaccumulation and biomagnification impact the environments around them.

With the crisis in Flint, Michigan, the EPA’s lead spill in 2015, and the nuclear waste in Fukushima, our planet’s water supply has been absorbing chemicals for a very long time.

This has impacted us by increasing our exposure to chemicals through the food we eat and the water we drink.

Consequences of bioaccumulation
The early consequences of bioaccumulation appeared in 1950’s Japan when a list of neurological disorders appeared in Minamata city’s residents. The incidence was traced back to fish and shellfish that contained high levels of methylmercury.

The methylmercury was coming from Chisso Corporation’s Minamata factory, the largest Japanese producer of acetaldehyde, a chemical used in manufacturing plastics. It turns out the factory was discharging excessive amounts of methylmercury into the Yatsushiro Sea.

What about BPA’s?
BPA’s are today’s biggest concerns when thinking about bioaccumulation. According to Mayoclinic, “bisphenol A is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.”

BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as plastic water bottles. When plastic is not recycled properly and ends up in our water supply, it poisons us.

Here’s a list of problems that  plague people who have been impacted by BPA’s:

Hormone levels: BPA could act like a hormone in the body, disrupting normal hormone levels and development in fetuses, babies, and children.

Brain and behavior problems: The National Toxicology Program at the FDA expressed concern about BPA’s possible effects on the brain and behavior of infants and young children.

Cancer: Some animal studies have shown a possible link between BPA exposure and a later increased risk of cancer.

Heart problems: Two studies have found that adults with the highest levels of BPA in their bodies seem to have a higher incidence of heart problems.