Implications for the seafood industry, consumers and the environment arising from contamination of shellfish with pharmaceuticals, plastics and potentially toxic elements: a case study from Irish waters with a global orientation
Fehrenbach, Gustavo Waltzer
Rowan, Neil J.
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Shellfish are a rich source of minerals, B-vitamins and omega-3 to the human diet. The global population is expected to reach 9.6 billion people by 2050 where there will be increased demand for shellfish and for sustained improvements in harvesting. The production of most consumed species of shellfish is sea-based and are thus susceptible to in situ environmental conditions and water quality. Population growth has contributed to expansion of urbanization and the generation of effluent and waste that reaches aquatic environments, potentially contaminating seafood by exposure to non-treated effluents or inappropriately discarded waste. Environmental contaminants as microplastics (MP), pharmaceuticals (PHAR) and potentially toxic contaminants (PTE) are being identified in all trophic levels and are a current threat to both shellfish and consumer safety. Immunotoxicity, genotoxicity, fertility reduction, mortality and bioaccumulation of PTE are representative examples of the variety of effects already established in contaminated shellfish. In humans, the consumption of contaminated shellfish can lead to neurological and developmental effects, reproductive and gastrointestinal disorders and in extreme cases, death. This timely review provides insights into the presence of MP, PHAR and PTE in shellfish, and estimate the daily intake and hazard quotient for consumption behaviours. Alternatives approaches for seafood depuration that encompass risk reduction are addressed, to reflect state of the art knowledge from a Republic of Ireland perspective. Review of best-published literature revealed that MP, PHAR and PTE contaminants were detected in commercialised species of shellfish, such as Crassostrea and Mytilus. The ability to accumulate these contaminants by shellfish due to feeding characteristics is attested by extensive in vitro studies. However, there is lack of knowledge surrounding the distribution of these contaminants in the aquatic environment their interactions with humans. Preventive approaches including risk assessment are necessary to safeguard the shellfish industry and the consumer.
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