The public is faced with a large variety of threats to their health and well-being, some unknown and some known. When people know about these threats and how they occur, they can be empowered to make decisions about their health. Bioaccumulation and biomagnification are two concepts intimately tied to human health and difficult ones to comprehend. There are many chemicals and toxins that can bioaccumulate in organisms and biomagnify through the food web, including DDT, PCBs, mercury, and algal biotoxins. Students may have heard of some of these substances before, and they may even be aware that certain marine organisms contain chemicals that could potentially be harmful to humans when consumed in large proportions.
Watch this video of 5th grade students in Laguna Niguel, California—a coastal community. The purpose of this classroom video is to see an example activity for teaching biomagnification and to find out what students do and do not learn from the activity.
For additional classroom context, video analysis, and reflection opportunities, read the Picture of Practice page for "Biomagnification" in the One Ocean Environmental Literacy Teacher Guide, page 102.