Danish Study Finds Environmental Toxins in Polar Bears
A study of polar bears in Greenland has revealed a disturbing "cocktail of environmental toxins" in their bones and tissues, according to a story posted this week by University of Copenhagen and reported by the Alaska Dispatch.
The pollutants arrive in the Arctic on air and ocean currents and travel up the food chain, with the greatest accumulation in top predators like polar bears and orcas.
Senior Scientist Christian Sonne of Aarhus University found evidence that the toxins make the bears more prone to disease, but don't kill them outright. "The accumulated industrial chemicals cause diseases in the polar bears which do not lead to their immediate deaths," Sonne said. "On the other hand, the toxins damage the bones and organs of the polar bears, their immune systems and not least their reproductive systems. However, the harm suffered by the population of polar bears in eastern Greenland is not yet fully understood."