We have been asked whether our polymer-based floating island products might:
release breakdown products such as Bisphenol A into water
release plastic particles that could be detrimental if ingested by fish or other animals
be related to the issue surrounding microplastics (exfoliant and other micro-beads)
“Kansas University researchers will be testing biofilms with extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that may prove an effective barrier for microplastics.” (WaterOnline, January 2018) “We think when there is more EPS in the system, we will get better removal,” Sturm said. BioHavens grow microbes that produce EPS – therefore, BioHavens are part of the solution, not the problem.
Concerns about some plastics are legitimate, but it’s important to understand which plastics are cause for concern and which are not, as not all plastics are the same. The infamous gyres in the ocean are formed mainly from plastic bags that break down and microfibers that detach from fleece clothing and float. This, plus other detritus that is not fit to be present in water are cause for concern.
Microplastics are specifically the tiny beads that are used in exfoliants and other products, that are too small to be trapped by wastewater treatment plants and find their way into rivers and streams to pose a threat to aquatic life. Because BioHavens promote the growth of biofilm that produces EPS, they are one of the few available technologies that provide an immediate solution to this issue.
BioHaven Plastics are Safe and Fit-for-Purpose
The plastic used in BioHaven products is appropriate and tested for use in even sensitive waters such as streams and lakes. It is the same EPA-approved plastic (PET) used in drinking water bottles that millions of people use every day without harm. No BPA is used in its manufacture, so it cannot leach into waterways. BioHaven matrix is manufactured from the highest grade of recycled polyester that has a higher internal viscosity (IV) than many virgin polyesters.
To make sure that the plastic does not break down, even after years of use, all BioHaven floating islands leave our factory with a protective coating covering the top and sides. This coating is the same as that used for lining municipal concrete water tanks and is certified safe for potable water and food-grade standards. It protects the islands from UV damage and keeps them intact even under heavy wildlife pressure (from waterfowl and muskrats, for example).
Once an island is launched, it takes very little time for biofilm to completely cover and protect it further. Anyone who has ever cleaned the inside of an aquarium knows how hard this is to remove!
“Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater!”
When you consider the massive issues with water pollution and the few sustainable technologies available to tackle it on a broad scale, can we afford to rule out plastics because of indiscriminate bias? Data on water contaminants in over 40 US states paint a shocking picture of the many poisons that are unregulated and present in our water. BioHavens have been tested for over 10 years and have no history of adding to the problem. Their “concentrated wetland effect” can address many of these contaminants by substituting for the natural wetlands that have been systematically destroyed by human development activities.
Long-Term Studies Show BioHavens are Safe
Experiments conducted at the Shepherd Research Center and at other locations indicate that:
BioHaven floating islands remove at least one deleterious plastic by-product (bisphenol A) from water; and
the presence of BioHaven floating islands in a pond or aquarium has had no detrimental effect on fish; in fact, the opposite has been demonstrated, namely that BioHavens stimulate fish growth for all sizes of fish.
These high growth rates indicate no detrimental ingestion of polymer particles by the fish and no adverse reaction to the presence of the islands.
Below are several case studies that demonstrate the multiple benefits of BioHaven floating islands for wildlife and water quality in general.
Bisphenol-A Case Study
This study tracked behavior of Beta Fighting Fish exposed to an estrogen mimicker (bisphenol A). Gill flares thought to be associated with fish virility and sex drive decreased upon exposure to BPA. After three days, incidence of gill flares recovered to pre-exposure levels in a test aquarium with a BioHaven floating island. Gill flare recovery did not occur in the test aquarium without a floating island.
Mississippi State University PhD thesis
A PhD thesis at Mississippi State University measured a 19% increase in fish biomass in a test pond installed with several BioHaven Streambeds. The impact of BioHavens on fish proved very positive.
Two case studies and ongoing data collection at our headquarters (Fish Fry Lake) show a sustained harvest of 26 pounds of game fish per acre-foot of water, as well as a range of other improvements in water quality parameters.
Minnow Pond case studies track a BioHaven floating streambed’s ability to maintain adequate dissolved oxygen conditions in a high-BOD setting. The result was high cycling of phosphorus into fathead minnow biomass, at the rate of 860 pounds of fish per acre-foot of water. This corresponds to over four pounds of phosphorus removal when the minnows were harvested.
Independent Studies Prove the Benefits of BioHavens
Numerous additional peer-reviewed papers demonstrate a range of improved water quality parameters associated with BioHaven floating treatment wetlands, including BOD removal and reduction in eutrophication. Nearly 30 additional case studies add to these data.
Improved water quality parameters include reduction in all forms of nitrogen, phosphorus and several heavy metals. Islands are also associated with reduction in concentration of hazardous bacteria including fecal coliform. Another benefit is apparent mitigation of conditions associated with harmful algae blooms.
Far from being part of the problem, BioHaven floating islands must be viewed as part of the solution to an increasingly impaired water supply, suffering from an over-generous application of mineral fertilizer and herbicides, as well as other poisonous contaminants. Based on the best available scientific information and testing, BioHaven matrix material is of positive benefit to the system.
BioHavens are made of polyester. Polyester is considered the safest, most inert plastic. It is the primary plastic used for fabrication of drinking water bottles.
We know of no plasticizer that comes from Polyester (PET).
PET does not contain BPA, Phthalates, Dioxins, Lead, Cadmium or Endocrine Disruptors.
Exposure to environmental conditions does not alter PET's safety.
No study has ever found toxic concentration of Antimony associated with PET.
The insignificant levels of Aldehydes that may be found in PET are lower than Aldehydes that occur naturally in various fruits, butter, olives, frozen vegetables and cheese.
The small fraction of fully reacted polyurethane polymer present in BioHavens is chemically inert. It is not regulated by OSHA for carcinogenicity.
The plastics used in BioHavens are also negatively buoyant, so if parts were to ever break off the they would sink. Accordingly, they are not a component of plastic residue that has collected in gyres in the Pacific Ocean. In all settings, the biofilm present on BioHavens encases it and prevents any off-gassing.
Biofilm, microbes and their residue, coat the BioHaven matrix within hours of it being placed in a waterway. Biofilm is natural, and is the primary agent associated with nature’s wetland effect. It is also extremely resilient and durable. Biofilm coats and contains BioHavens within hours of launch.
Surface area provided by the matrix is inert and does not break down, consuming dissolved oxygen in the process, as coir and jute matrix do. Accordingly, BioHavens do not contribute negatively to the biological oxygen demand within a waterway. Top surface and sidewalls of BioHavens are coated with a protective liner for additional UV and waterfowl protection.
Biofilm is the base material for periphyton, which launches the food web in fresh water. In association with diatoms, a positive oxygen-generating form of phytoplankton, waterways otherwise associated with harmful algae blooms can be restored.
Fish Fry Lake, a research waterway at our headquarters, is a direct example of a hypertrophic waterway that has been restored. When the lake was initially filled it was a complete carpet of blue/green and filamentous algae, with water clarity of 14 inches. Today it is the most productive wild fishery in Montana, with water clarity extending to 19 feet. Fish from the lake, including older fish in which toxic bioaccumulations are more likely to occur, show no hazardous trace of toxic compounds. Instead, their health and brilliant coloration is striking.
Please contact us for further details to implement your own ecologically sound BioHaven solution. 1.406.373.5200