Who knew fish could have heart troubles? Then again, they're living beings with beating hearts. It's just that it never occurred to me to think about the little (and big) scaly guys in quite those terms. I should have, it's not like I never write about BP, Big Oil, and pollution, right? P.S. At this point, those words are all synonymous.
And they're also lethal.
In my morning Los Angeles Times, I came across a story about fish going into cardiac arrest because of the effects of the BP disaster... a story hidden on page A12. Of course, poisoning our waters is not only a health issue, it's also an economic one, and the two issues merge into one big fat mess.
In studying the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on bluefin tuna spawning in the Gulf of Mexico, the research team discovered that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, block “signaling pathways” that allow potassium and calcium ions to flow in and out of cardiac cell membranes and sustain normal heart rates. [...]
Their study also suggests that PAH cardiotoxicity was potentially a common form of injury among a broad range of species in the vicinity of the oil spilled into one of the most productive ocean ecosystems in the world.
Previously, cancer was the concern when it came to the toxicity of PAH. Now this. By the way, PAHs are found in coal tar (see how "clean" coal is?), air pollution, urban runoff, and creosote:
Creosote is the portion of chemical products obtained by the distillation of a tar that remains heavier than water, notably useful for its anti-septic and preservative properties. It is produced in some quantities from the burning of wood and coal in blast furnaces and fireplaces; commonly found inside chimney flues when the wood or coal burns incompletely, producing soot and tarry smoke, and is the compound responsible for the preservation and the flavor of meat in the process of smoking. ... The two main types in industrial production are wood-tar creosote and coal-tar creosote. The coal-tar variety, having stronger and more toxic properties..
Study leader Barbara Block is a professor of marine sciences at Stanford. Here's what she had to say:
Now about that dirty, filthy, disaster-in-waiting, Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline that affects more people than it does fish...