You've heard by now how plastic is impacting the environment and especially the ocean — but have you thought about the ingredients of your makeup?
According to a study recently published in American Geophysical Union, phthalates have now been found in dolphins.
Phthalates are defined as a group of chemicals used to soften PVC plastic and as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine also states that ingesting phthalates can be harmful, although not everything is known about the effects of ingesting them quite yet.
It does state, however, that one phthalate in particular is a known endocrine disruptor and can cause cancer, while others have been reported to affect human reproduction and development.
So how did researchers discover the chemicals in dolphins? From 2016 to 2017, urine samples from 17 dolphins in the bay of Sarasota, Florida, were analyzed and found to have traces of phthalates in them.
College of Charleston and Chicago Zoological Society partnered for this study, and the results are quite remarkable as it is the very first time that these chemicals have been found in wild dolphins.
While the researches noted that the presence of the chemical itself wasn't surprising, the high levels were.
Another surprising aspect of the results of the study was that the levels in dolphins were comparable to those found in humans.
Because humans come into more direct contact with products that include phthalates than dolphins do, the levels were particularly shocking and a reflection of just how much runoff and plastic decomposition is occurring in the ocean.
The next phase of research for the College of Charleston and the Chicago Zoological Society will be to figure out exactly how the chemicals are entering the dolphins' bodies.
According to an article titled "Components of Plastic: Experimental Studies in Animals and Relevance for Human Health" and published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, phthalates have been known to affect such animals as rats and mice, so it is entirely possible that the chemicals are affecting the dolphins.
The exact type of effect they're having on bottlenose dolphins is yet to be determined, though, and is something that will certainly be studied closely in years to come, thanks to this new study.