Chemical toxins found in oysters around Marco Island

Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Oysters being researched at FIU. (Credit: FIU)

Toxins are infiltrating the oysters around Southwest Florida. Researchers from Florida International University found the contaminated mollusks off Marco Island.

The good news is the oysters the researchers found are not sold for you to enjoy.

You have probably heard the saying, the world is your oyster, but sometimes, the world, and its harmful man-made effects, are inside of the oyster.

Oyster being researched at FIU. (Credit: FIU)

A new study says toxicity levels in oysters found in the water off Marco Island are high enough to sound an alarm.

The toxins that were found are PFAS, or chemicals that break down very slowly.

“We can find them in everything that is waterproof, stick-proof,” said Natalia Quinete, with the FIU department of chemistry and biochemistry. “So all the coatings, a lot of clothing, a lot of cosmetics are waterproofing.”

Quinete made it clear that we all have likely consumed, and possibly bathed in PFAS.

“About 99% of the population has been exposed and has PFAS. So, we are not surprised that we found them in oysters as well,” said Quinete.

PFAS are man-made chemicals used in consumer and industrial products.

“That’s a definite warning that this area is contaminated,” said Quinete.

Quinete and Leila Lemos are a part of the Institute of Environment at FIU. Their recent study sampled oysters from Marco Island, Biscayne Bay, and Tampa Bay, and the results were concerning.

“The oysters from Biscayne Bay had the highest concentrations compared to the other locations and Marco Island came second,” said Leila Lemos, a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute of Environment at FIU.

While this is an undeniable sign that our water is not good, being selfish with our shellfish has paid off.

“If we’re talking specifically about Marco Island, I tried buying oysters from local farmers as well or fisherman, and they simply don’t have oysters for consumption. All of the oysters come from the northeastern region of the country,” said Lemos.

The chances are the oysters you are eating in Southwest Florida are not from Southwest Florida.

The study reveals that PFAS are in our water and in the food chain.

The FIU researchers believe if they’re in our oysters, they’re in fish and shrimp too.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.