Chemical Poisoning of Polar Bears

According to a recent scientific study, polar bears face chemical poisoning 100 times above levels considered safe for adult bears.  The reason is that certain pollutants bioaccumulate in the environment.

A research article in the recent edition of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistryshows that the bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the arctic ecosystem are playing havoc on the diet of polar bears.

Trace quantities of PCBs are still found in the blood of polar bears.  Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is also found in surprisingly high concentrations in polar bears.  PFOCs are found in fire fighting foams, oil repellent paper, packaging and fabrics.

When a bear eats a seal, toxins are amplified 34-fold.  POPs accumulate in in muscle rather than fat.

The polar bear population in the arctic is estimated to be at 26,000.  Scientists estimate that number will fall by a third by the 2050’s due to the impact of climate change.  It is uncertain if this new information on toxicity will impact the estimate.

New and emerging contaminants being found in polar bears can only reduce the number.

 

 

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