Bethanie Carney Almroth


Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences
Visiting address
Medicinaregatan 7 B
41390 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 463
40530 Göteborg

About Bethanie Carney Almroth

PROFESSOR, RESEARCHER, ecotoxicology and zoophysiology


My research focuses on the environmental effects of plastics and plastic-associated chemicals, using different species of fish for study. I use biochemical and physiological methodologies to understand how exposure to microplastics, plastic additives, and environmental chemicals affect fish via different exposure routes. I am specifically interested in oxidative stress mechanisms and their importance following exposure to toxic substances. My research group is included in the Environmental Science focus area at the Dept of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Other research projects in which I am involved address usage and spread of plastics in society and the environment, as well as consequences of exposure to plastics and associated chemicals.

Weeding out the toxins from recycled plastics -

Plastics recycling is touted as one solution to the problems associated with widespread plastic pollution. Plastics now pollute every niche on the planet and impacts in marine aquatic environments are well documented, as is the widespread contamination of water, sediment and organisms with plastic-associated chemicals. This underlies the efforts to increase reuse and recycling of plastics in the circular economy. The complexity of plastics, regarding polymers and chemical additives or contaminants, thwarts efforts to do this in a safe and viable manner. The vision and overall aim of this project is to drastically reduce the production, trade and use of toxic “non-circular” plastics, i.e. plastics that cannot be recycled due to content of hazardous chemicals, and protect the integrity of anon-toxic circular economy via an extended producer responsibility approach. To do so, we will investigate recycled plastic pellets from small scale recycling centers in the Global South. We will analyze the materials for polymer composition and chemical contamination, informing the degree of contamination. We will then address toxic chemicals in the plastics and potential environmental impacts on aquatic species from three different trophic levels and sensitivities. Finally, we will evaluate policy mechanisms to support safe and efficient recycling, communicating results to important stakeholders. The expected outcomes will provide valuable knowledge, in line with SDGs 3, 6, 12 and 14. In collaboration with IPEN and Home | EfD - Initiative (

The plastic pollution challenge: a global social-ecological perspective -

This project aims to characterize the science-policy-society interfaces of the plastic pollution challenge, assess the implications of their missing gender and equity dimensions, and inform more effective societal responses. Plastic pollution is ubiquitous in all aquatic and terrestrial environments. Worldwide plastic production and use increased exponentially for decades, while its end-life management was overlooked. Much of the material that people throw ‘away’ ends up as marine plastic litter and microplastic. Ecologically, it causes harm and death to countless organisms. Socially, it is an amenity and resource loss and a health hazard with high economic costs. Its effects in the marine environment have prompted worldwide activism. Yet marine plastic pollution is only recently receiving science-policy attention, long after being the focus of global social movements. And although drivers, impacts and scope to influence plastic pollution challenges differ between men and women, rich and poor, there is a stark gender and equity gap in today’s knowledge-action systems. Project lead is Dr. Sarah Cornell.


I am currently PI in LimnoPlast, an ITN project focused on plastic debris, so-called microplastics (MP), which pose a global challenge. As most plastic is produced and used inland, the considerable lack of knowledge on their sources and impacts in freshwater ecosystems inhibits effective mitigation measures. To meet this challenge, LimnoPlast will for the first time bring together environmental, technical, and social sciences with the vision to transform a new understanding of freshwater MP to innovative solutions.

The chronic toxicity of MP in fish will be investigated with a focus on metabolism and general stress in laboratory experiments. Several ecologically relevant fish species will be used, all of which have well-known physiology and genetics. ESR12 will assess the toxicity of biodegradable and conventional MP polymers. The endpoints will focus on life cycle parameters, metabolism, stress, and behavior endpoints. Proteomics will be considered to gain further insights into altered metabolism or mechanisms. Fish species with different feeding strategies and also different life-stages will be considered for the study of MP uptake to obtain a picture of species sensitivities and vulnerabilities under real conditions. Biodegradable and conventional MP polymers will be compared. In addition, the toxicity of leachates from conventional and biodegradable polymers will be tested.

Less Space for Plastic -

- an interdisciplinary project within CeCar, using psychological and ecotoxicological approaches to reduce plastic use and debris. We will address use of plastics in packaging in stores in collaboration between ecotoxicologists, environmental scientists, and environmental psychologists. We are funded by the Kamprad Foundation.


• CeCar – The Center for Collective Action Research I also work within CeCar, an interdisciplinary project aimed at solving environmental problems by inducing large-scale changes in society. Focus here lies in communication with the general public, industry, and policy makers and addressing problems associated with plastic consumption and possible paths towards mitigating problems.

• FRAM – The FRAM center for Future Chemical Risk Assessment and Management Strategies I also work with other experts within the FRAM project addressing risk assessment of chemicals and chemical mixtures used in plastic projects and relevant chemical legislation.


As an associate professor at the university, a portion of my time is dedicated to undergraduate and Master’s level courses. I am the course leader for an introductory course in the form and function of organisms as well as an interdisciplinary introductory course in environmental science. I also teach ecotoxicology with focus on physiological effects and biochemical toxicity. In addition, I teach a course for vocational teachers aiming to include issues of sustainable development into their programs.

I am also active as an advisor for PhD candidates and Master’s students, guiding them in their independent research projects. This research is often connected to ongoing research projects within my group.


I dedicate some of my time to outreach activities and communicating research results and their implications to the general public. I also interact with other actors in society, including authorities, politician, businesses and industry, schools and museums. This is often done via lecturing, presentation of reports, interactive events or inspirational speaking. Some of this occurs via the university and ongoing research projects while other activities are conducted in collaboration with other groups.

I am currently a steering member of The Scientists' Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty is an international network of diverse, independent scientific and technical experts seeking to contribute with summaries and interpretations of scientific knowledge to decision makers and the public involved in the negotiations towards a global agreement to end plastic pollution. Find fact sheets and policy briefs here: Scientists' Coalition - Ikhapp.

► Previous projects

I have previously working within the following projects and research platforms:

• I was PI in two FORMAS-finansed projects entitled ’A sea of plastic – are plastic particles toxic to fish?’ and ’iMPACT: Microplastic pollution and chemical toxicity’. Together with my group, I studied the uptake and effects of microplastic particles on fish. We focused on the effects of exposure to particles, both locally in the gut as well as systemic effects. I also worked together with colleagues within a third FORMAS-project ‘Microplastics in marine waters: Sources, pathways, fate and indicator species’ working to identify sources and fate of microplastics, including sinks in different compartments in the marine environment, including biota.

Clean Coastline – I was a PI and workpackage leader within a large Interreg project in the Skagerrak Kattegatt region, aimed at develop innovative methods for modelling the spread of plastics and marine litter. Our ultimate goal was to improve cleanup and decrease the presence and effects of litter in the region.

HCPP – Hazardous chemicals in plastic packaging I was a PI within a research funded by MAVA together with The Food Packaging Forum. We aim to produce a database covering toxic chemicals used in plastic packaging materials. We used available information to perform a risk assessment of potential health risks associated with these chemicals in humans and in the environment. We collaborated with ChemSec (International Chemical Secretariat) in identifying problematic substances and suggesting compounds for possible use in replacement. • EGO (ecotoxicology from gene to ocean)

The NICE project (Novel instruments for effect-based assessment of chemical pollution in coastal ecosystems).

• MistraPharma (Identification and reduction of environmental risks caused by human pharmaceuticals)