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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

The importance of avoiding chemical contamination for a successful cultivation of marine organisms

  • M. Bernhard1 and
  • A. Zattera1
Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen20:BF01609938


1. Using 6 phytoplankton species and/or the copepodEuterpina acutifrons or larvae of the sea urchinArbacia lixula the potential inhibitory effects of chemicals released from some 70 different materials (mainly plastics) have been tested. In addition, the effects of 6 detergents have been examined.

2. Several materials, such as natural rubbers and polyvinyl chlorides, are highly toxic and should never be used when experimenting with living marine organisms.

3. Teflon (Algoflon), Perspex, Polyethylene, Tygon, Polypropylene, Polycarbonates (Makrolon) and Polyester (Gabraster) have been shown to be non-toxic and are, therefore, suitable for use in cultivation of marine organisms. Some materials had slightly negative effects on the organisms tested and should, therefore, be used only if no alternatives are available.

4. Some suggestions are advanced on how to construct non-toxic samplers and laboratory equipment used for experiments with marine organisms.


PhytoplanktonNatural RubberMarine OrganismPolyvinyl ChlorideChemical Contamination