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Bans on chemicals that threaten animals and people in Arctic are working


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Arctic ecosystems are fragile and are therefore particularly vulnerable to persistent organic pollutants: Getty Images
Arctic ecosystems are fragile and are therefore particularly vulnerable to persistent organic pollutants: Getty Images

Bans on dangerous chemicals responsible for death and illness in many animals seem to have done their job.

Nearly two decades after restrictions were placed on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as DDT, scientists have confirmed levels of these poisonous substances are dropping in the Arctic.

Previously used widely in industry and agriculture, these chemicals had serious health effects in animals and made birds lay eggs with shells so thin they failed to hatch.

They caused catastrophic population declines in fish-eating birds like eagles and pelicans, and proved particularly harmful in the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic.

Awareness of the devastating consequences of these chemicals grew around the end of the 20th century, and culminated in the Stockholm Convention of 2001.

As their name suggests, POPs persist in environments and can continue causing harm long after they enter as they accumulate in animals’ bodies and cause havoc with their internal processes.

However, a new study published in Science of the Total Environment has charted the gradual detoxification of the Arctic environment since the ban.

"This paper shows that following the treaty and earlier phase-outs have largely resulted in a decline of these contaminants in the Arctic," said Dr John Kucklick, a biologist from the National Institute of Standards and Technology who contributed to the work.

"When POP use was curtailed, the change was reflected by declining concentrations in the environment."

POPs build up in the bodies of animals as they pass through the food chain. Plankton containing these chemicals is eaten by fish, which are in turn eaten by birds, bears or whales, and are then stored in their body tissues.

There have also been concerns about the exposure of indigenous people in polar regions to these toxic chemicals as they consume animals from higher up in the food chain that contain high concentrations of POPs.

To understand how contamination levels have changed over time, the scientists examined samples of fat taken from shellfish and seabirds stretching back to the 1980s.

They also monitored air in the Arctic Circle to detect traces of pollution.

These substances are slow to fade from ecosystems, but generally the ones banned by the Stockholm Convention have been on a downward trajectory in recent decades.

The biggest decrease was in a by-product of the pesticide lindane, which has dropped by around 9 per cent every year in Arctic wildlife.

"You really need to gather more than 10 years of data before you can see the trend because in the short term there can be some small fluctuations," said Dr Frank Riget from Aarhus University, who led the research.

However, the researchers warned that the path ahead is not entirely clear for these chemicals. Some dangerous chemicals still in use had shown increases over the study period, and there are expected to be many more that will need to be banned in coming years.



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Always it's the same problem pollution laws always vary  from place to place.. Alaska has the most polluted city in the USA . Now there trying pass laws in USA to allow more burning coal to get the coal mines back running . Always in my country they take one step forward and two steps back. You have one group who acts like they cares and there pollution laws just cause them to move the jobs somewhere else ,so the pollution just moves to were they allow it,,  so it don't really help. Then you have the other group who just wants to profit from it , but at lest they create jobs . When i'm dead and gone i could care less about what happens on earth  in a 100 years  no one will care about me or even know i existed . I live in the here and now and its not pretty,  people i love have been dying every since i existed on earth and this all you have too look forward to is death. Everything will die one day.  


Governments with there Nuclear bombs that can destroy the whole earth ..Man will kill the whole earth one day , because the majority are not worried about  saving it, there worried about destroying people and everything that exist. Governments post there propaganda about how war missions were a failure when the other country only pulled back to prevent world war 3 and Nuclear bombs was all.  Lots of times the only thing stands between life and death is the fact they have Nuclear bombs. If they didn't have them there would of already been another world war and most of us would of  died by now, that is the only thing that has prevented it so far. Humans are the destroyers not the worlds savior.  Your savior every since World War 2 ended is Nuclear bombs  this is what they use to keep us from killing each other,  is the fact they have them, and in the end someone will use them and it will backfire on the whole stupid human race. :coolwink:

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