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Monday, 9 January 2017

Chemicals from cleaning product are killing polar bears: study

CORNWALL, UK: Pollutants found in cleaning products such as Scotchguard have turned up in Arctic waters, leaving polar bears vulnerable to being poisoned, scientists from Italy have claimed.
Scientists have said the chemicals, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), enter the Arctic food chain when they are ingested by polar cod. The chemicals are not harmful to the fish because only a low level of POPs are present in seawater.
But, the infected cod are eaten by seals and, as they eat more fish, a higher concentration of POPs build up inside their body tissue. When polar bears eat seals infected with a high level of POPs, they are at risk of being poisoned.
And the risk is highest for polar bear cubs who are fed contaminated milk with high levels of POPs from their mothers.
Researchers said that, relative to the 1980s, a decrease in risk from legacy POPs is evident for bear cubs, mainly because of international control measures.
The research was published in the journal of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
But levels of new POPs, particularly a chemical known as Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), are on the rise. PFOS used to be a key ingredient in the fabric protector Scotchguard and several stain repellents. It was added to Annex B of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in May 2009 but traces of the chemical can still be found in Arctic seawater.
"This work is the first attempt to quantify the overall risk of POPs for the Arctic ecosystem and to define a ranking in order to highlight the most dangerous chemicals in the mixture," said Sara Villa, an ecologist from the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy.
"The results demonstrate that international control measures are effective at reducing the risk to ecosystems. Nevertheless, it is fundamental to continuously implement the control of new and emerging contaminants," said Professor Marco Vighi, co-lead author.
© Cornwall Live News
Read More: Chemicals from cleaning product are killing polar bears: study

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