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Polar Bears Face New Toxic Threat: Flame Retardants
Already imperiled by melting ice and a brew of toxic chemicals, polar bears throughout the Arctic, particularly in remote dens near the North Pole, face an additional threat as flame retardants originating largely in the United States are building up in their bodies, according to an international team of wildlife scientists.
The flame retardants are one of the newest additions to hundreds of industrial compounds and pesticides carried to the Arctic by northbound winds and ocean currents. Accumulating in the fatty tissues of animals, many chemicals grow more concentrated as larger creatures eat smaller ones, turning the Arctic's top predators and native people into some of the most contaminated living organisms on Earth.
In urban areas, particularly in North America, researchers already have shown that levels of flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyls, or PBDEs, are growing at a rapid pace in people and wildlife. Although they have been found in much lower concentrations in the Arctic, scientists say their toxic legacy will persist there for years because they are slow to break down, particularly in cold climates.
The consensus now is that pollutants from around the world are being carried north by rivers, ocean currents and atmospheric circulation. Due to extreme conditions in the Arctic, including reduced sunlight, extensive ice cover and cold temperatures, contaminants break down much more slowly than in warmer climates.
Originally posted by loam
I had no idea...
"turning the Arctic's top predators and native people into some of the most contaminated living organisms on Earth." :shk:
Scientists look for link with hermaphrodite Arctic polar bears
The British newspaper The Independent reported today that scientists are following a link between flame-retardants and hermaphroditism in Arctic polar bears. Researchers found the chemical, known as polybrominated diphenyls, or PBDE, in the fatty tissues of polar bears, predominantly in Greenland and Norway.
Scientists blame pollution for the appearance of both male and female sex organs in about one in 50 female bears in Norway's Svalbard islands.
Originally posted by anxietydisorder
Smokey would have loved a gallon of flame retardant......
Feds Move to Protect Polar Bears
The federal government on Tuesday took the first step toward listing the polar bear as a threatened species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said protection may be warranted under the Endangered Species Act, triggering a review process that could lead to its listing.