Concerns raised over the impact of chemicals on marine life

Researchers warn of deleterious chemicals in harbors.

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A recent study conducted along the Hampshire and West Sussex coasts has uncovered a startling revelation – over 50 chemicals in the water. This discovery has raised concerns about the potential impact on marine life and the environment. The study’s findings shed light on the complex issue of water pollution and highlight the urgent need for further investigation and action to protect our coastal ecosystems.

A study on water quality in Chichester and Langstone harbors has revealed high levels of potentially harmful chemicals. The collaboration between local interest groups, Portsmouth and Brunel Universities, collected hundreds of samples as part of Project Spotlight. Researchers analyzed 288 samples and detected over 50 compounds, including pharmaceuticals, recreational drugs, and pesticides such as simazine, propamocarb, imidacloprid, and clothianidin.

Professor Alex Ford, from the. University of Portsmouth‘s School of Biological Sciences said: “We know there are billions of liters of sewage discharges annually around the UK, but the impact of these discharges is not clearly understood. This project lets us determine chemical contaminants in marine life and coastal waters. We have found many prescribed and illegal drugs, plus a variety of pesticides, in coastal waters and marine organisms, such as crabs and oysters. This is important because pharmaceuticals and farming practices such as biocides and fertilizers threaten aquatic ecosystems.”

Professor Ford’s research has shown that even small quantities of antidepressants in water can negatively impact wildlife, leading to changes in behavior, color, growth, and reproduction. He expressed concern about the wide range of prescription drugs that enter aquatic ecosystems through wastewater treatment plants, posing a significant environmental issue.

In a recent study by CHP, a post-storm seawater sample near Budds Farm treatment works revealed E.coli levels at 380,000 colony-forming units per 100ml, surpassing the safe levels set by the European Bathing Water Directive by 760 times. This finding highlights the potential risk to human health. To further investigate, scientists will compare the concentration of pollutants from the previous year’s drought with samples taken after combined sewer overflow discharges due to rainfall occurring at the exact sewage discharge locations.

Public awareness of chemical pollution, particularly from combined sewer overflows (CSOs), is increasing, and collaboration with residents has proven valuable in addressing concerns. Dr. Tom Miller of Brunel University highlighted the importance of public awareness and the opportunity to work with locals to tackle the problem. The crowdfunding-supported Project Spotlight, initiated by the Clean Harbours Partnership (CHP), aims to identify chemical contaminants affecting coastal environments and driving change.

The presence of various chemicals, including persistent pesticides and pharmaceuticals like antidepressants and drugs for diabetes and bladder infections, in seawater raises concerns about their impact on marine life. The scale of sewage discharges into waterways has sparked public shock and ongoing discussions regarding the authorities’ management of these environmental threats.

In conclusion, a wide range of chemicals in the water off the coasts of Hampshire and West Sussex raises concerns about the ecological and health implications for marine organisms and humans. Urgent action is required to investigate further these chemicals’ sources, impacts, and potential risks. A comprehensive and coordinated approach involving various stakeholders is necessary to protect and preserve coastal ecosystems and human well-being.

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