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Phthalates in the San Juan Bay Estuary

             Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl, and are used in hundreds of consumer products. They are not chemically bound to products and are, therefore, released into the environment where they may enter the human body by ingestion, inhalation, or dermal absorption. This study is focused on the presence, distribution, and concentration of plasticizers particularly phthalates in the San Juan Bay Estuary of Puerto Rico. This estuarine ecosystem is enclosed in the San Juan-Carolina Metropolitan area. A comparison of pollutants for the years 2012-2014 was performed at a total of 16 sites. We analyzed water samples by solid-phase extraction coupled with gas Chromatography/mass spectrometry, and then compared them between years and between sites. Our results have shown that although plasticizers have varied over the years, the compounds have generally remained persistent in the estuary. Dibutyl phthalate is one of the compounds that have been consistently recorded over the years and repeatedly in most sampling sites, indicating that this contaminant may be a threat to the ecosystem. The population density is expected to continue increasing each year and therefore the number of concentration of contaminants found in aquatic environments due to human activities will also likely increase.
             For centuries, our planet has been in direct contact with all living beings. From the beginning, it has provided us with their resources to offer food, shelter and protection. Each year, the human population around the world increases and with it the degree of excessive consumption that leads to the waste of materials into the sea. These wastes, shipped into the various bodies of water, contain a large number of pollutants which in turn come into direct contact with the biodiversity that inhabit these bodies of water. The importance of this study lies in identify and categorize contaminants present in an estuary and their impact on biodiversity.

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