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Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and microplastics are two forms of environmental pollution that are occurring worldwide and whose impacts to the atmosphere and its ecological health are not well-understood. Microplastics are either manufactured as less than 5 mm in size or degrade into that size from regular plastics. PFAS are man-made high production volume chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide and similar to microplastics, PFAS are known for their persistence and possible adverse effects on humans and wildlife. These pollutants enter the marine environment through inappropriate disposal and negatively affect organisms and their survival by disrupting their behaviors and causing several morphological and physiological changes. However, there is a lack of studies on the combined effects of pollutants. This study measured mortality in zebrafish (Danio rerio) during exposure to PFAS, microplastics, or both. Fluorescent microscope pictures were taken to observe ingestion of microplastics. Independent PFAS severely increased zebrafish mortality, and microplastics were ingested but did not increase mortality. PFAS in combination with microplastics produced an antagonistic effect, likely due to the absorption of PFAS by the microplastics. This study increases awareness of the independent and combined toxicological effects of microplastics and short-chain PFAS pollution and demonstrates the effects of two pollutants acting simultaneously in an aquatic ecosystem.
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Chernyak, Elizabeth, "Are Two Poisons Worse Than One? Antagonistic Effects in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Mortality Caused by Short-Chain PFAS and Microplastics Exposure" (2023). Senior Projects Spring 2023. 13.
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