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Widely-Reported Study on Fish and Microbeads Might Have Been Faked

In 2016, news of the immediate dangers of microbeads captured headlines across the nation. The damning study by Uppsala University researchers Oona Lönnstedt and Peter Eklöv was published in hundreds of papers, and all across the web. It even appeared in the well-respected scientific journal Science. In the 2016 study, Lönnstedt and Eklöv asserted that

“fish exposed to high concentrations of microplastic particles (tiny beads of polystyrene) exhibit altered behaviors and stunted growth, making them more susceptible to predators. Disturbingly, the damselfish larvae—who were exposed to the plastic in aquariums—appeared to develop a preference for the plastic beads over natural food sources, marking the first time scientists had ever seen such behavior.”

Now after an independent investigation by Sweden’s Central Ethical Review Board (CEPN), experts believe that Lönnstedt and Eklöv “committed scientific fraud”. Sweden’s review board believes that this was much more than a case of two scientists using poor judgement, “the CEPN team suspects the research wasn’t even performed as stated, and that the scientists fabricated much of the evidence.” The scientists aren’t the only ones taking heat for this, Uppsala University is also coming under fire for not “policing its own.” While the news of scientific fraud is alarming, CEPN’s findings also detract from the bigger picture. How do microbeads affect marine life? Hopefully further studies will be conducted; studies that are carried out in a manner that takes into account just how serious this issue is.

To learn more about the findings of Sweden’s Central Ethical Review Board, click here: