Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Juanita Urban-Rich

Second Advisor

William E. Robinson

Third Advisor

Helen C. Poynton


Plastics are a major contaminant in our ocean, and both the micro (<5mm) and macro-sized particles are a hazard to marine life. One characteristic of microplastics is their ability to sorb other contaminants, providing a pathway for these contaminants into marine life. Despite an increase in publishing of various studies examining microplastic interaction with persistent organic pollutants, not much is known about interaction between plastics and pharmaceutical drugs. Gemfibrozil (GEM) is a fibrate class drug used to lower triglyceride levels in patients. GEM has been detected locally in the waters near Nantucket Island, MA at concentrations of 5 ng/L and in European Rivers at concentrations up to 300 ng/L and has been shown to be toxic to Mediterranean mussels.

The objective of this thesis is to determine if polystyrene beads (PSB) can be as a vector for GEM into bay scallop larvae. An acute, 24h exposure study followed by a week-long grow out of bay scallop larvae was conducted and the mortality, size and lipid ratio of the larvae were monitored. Acute mortality results show that PSB increased mortality when compared to a filtered sea water control by 2.05 times. Across concentrations mortality was higher after 24 hours by an average 1.84 times in GEM and polystyrene beads treated with Gemfibrozil (PSB+G) treatments. During the 7 day grow-out period, mortality increased across concentrations and treatment groups significantly more than in either control. Mortality was about 70% higher in PSB+G treatment groups when compared to the PSB control. A repeated measure ANOVA showed significantly more mortality in PSB+G treatment groups than VPSB. Shell height increased over time but increased at a slower rate as the concentration of GEM increased. In conclusion, PSB were able to be a vector for contamination of GEM in the bay scallop.


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