The twin issues of global warming and plastic pollution could be having an even greater impact on marine populations than previously thought, according to new research.
Academics at the University of Sydney have found that fish exposed to the industrial chemical BPA and living in higher temperature waters grow more slowly and require more energy.
BPA is a common chemical used in plastics manufacturing, with millions of tonnes produced every year. It is released into the marine environment from manufacturing effluent and from the breakdown of plastic material and is already known to disrupt the metabolism and growth of marine animals.
The scientists exposed zebrafish to a level of BPA commonly found in waterways and found that the
chemical decreased the amount of energy the fish needed to grow at 24 degrees Celcius, but hampered growth for those at 30C – the more likely temperature for their natural habitat following prolonged global warming.
The study’s author, Frank Seebacher, professor of biology at the University of Sydney, said the findings highlighted the need for both climate change mitigation and plastic waste reduction.