Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lobster death linked to toxic chemicals

Lobster die-offs have been a problem in Long Island Sound (NY/Connecticut) for decades. See gruesome photo at right. Now a new study says that chemicals like Bisphenol A may be the cause of dead lobsters.

According to UConn today:

Lobster shell disease has been a contentious issue in Connecticut since the beginning of a massive lobster die-off in Long Island Sound in the late 1990s. In the past decade, the state’s commercial lobster catch has plummeted, with catches falling to about one-sixth of their 1998 levels. Factors such as mosquito insecticides and warming temperatures have been implicated as potential risk factors for the disease, which creates dark lesions on the outside of the lobsters’ shells that, over time, bore through the shell to the membranes underneath.

The new research Laufer is presenting at the conference showed that chemicals found in plastic bottles and detergents may make lobsters more susceptible to the disease. He and his colleagues identified “hotspots” in the Sound where lobsters have high levels of alkylphenols – a group of chemicals derived from detergents, paints, and plastics – circulating in their bodies. The lobsters take in these chemicals from their food, mostly mollusks such as clams and mussels that filter the chemicals from the water. In the western Long Island Sound, the southern shore of Massachusetts, and Cape Cod Bay, as many as half of the lobsters surveyed were contaminated with the chemicals.

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