Global warming makes oysters more sensitive to toxins
The warming of the oceans as a result of global climate change could have sensitive effects on the mussel fauna and especially on oyster farming, since the molluscs are more prone to poisoning by metals such as cadmium at higher water temperatures.
According to Gisela Lannig of the University of North Carolina, this could have fatal consequences for shellfish, especially in more polluted coastal waters. Because oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are cold-blooded organisms, their body temperature changes with the surrounding water temperature. With the water at 20 and 24 degrees Celsius, the heavy metal cadmium in the sea also increases the animals' physical metabolism. When the water reaches 28 degrees Celsius, the metabolic rate doesn't increase any further, but the viability of the mussels now drops significantly because the toxic metal damages the mitochondria in the mussel's cells, the researcher says. However, the exact mechanism is still unclear.
Cadmium constantly circulates between land, air and water, also accumulating in the tissues of humans and animals. In the human body, it affects the calcium metabolism and the storage of calcium in the bones - serious diseases such as Itai-Itai can be the result.