It’s no secret that the common pollutants nitrate (from fertilizer) and phthalates (from plastic) can harm a variety of organisms, including people. When someone ingests nitrate, for example, it can be converted by the body into nitrite, which interferes with the blood’s ability to transport oxygen. In infants, this can lead to a condition known as blue baby syndrome. Phthalates, meanwhile, are potentially linked to kidney, liver, and reproductive problems in humans. These pollutants can also be devastating for aquatic animals.

A new study led by biologist Karen Echeverri at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, demonstrates just how extensive the damage from nitrate and phthalate exposure can be. In laboratory tests, Echeverri and her colleagues showed these pollutants can affect everything from an animal’s overall body development to the makeup of its microbiome. Perhaps most strikingly, their study showed that all of these consequences can afflict one organism: the starlet sea anemone. Read the full story.

Source: The Anemone in the Coal Mine | Hakai Magazine