Polar bears ill from accumulated environmental toxins

Oct 13, 2011

New doctoral thesis documents that industrial chemicals are transported from the industrialized world to the Arctic via air and sea currents. Here, the cocktail of environmental toxins is absorbed by the sea's food chains which are so rich in fats and of which the polar bear is the top predator.

On Friday 14 October 2011, Christian Sonne, Senior Scientist at Aarhus University, defends his doctoral thesis at LIFE - Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

"The accumulated cause diseases in the polar bears which do not lead to their immediate deaths. 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," says Christian Sonne.

Together with researchers from LIFE – the Faculty of Life Sciences and Aarhus University, Christian Sonne has undertaken the first meta study of ten years of research conducted up until 2010 into the effects of contaminants on the health of the species. At the same time, he has analysed tissue and bone samples from about 100 east Greenlandic polar bears.

Christian Sonne and his colleagues from LIFE – the Faculty of Life Sciences have previously conducted controlled experiments on the effects of environmental toxins on Arctic foxes and Greenlandic sled dogs. Both species top the Arctic food chain and are genetically and developmentally closely related to the polar bear.

The experiments showed that the damage seen in the was also evident in the groups of Arctic foxes and dogs which were fed , but not in the control groups.

Explore further: US charges safari owners with illegal rhino hunts

Provided by University of Copenhagen

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Polar bears at risk from ice loss

Oct 14, 2005

Survival of the remaining polar bears is increasingly jeopardized by rapid disappearance of the arctic sea ice, conservation groups say.

Recommended for you

How can we help endangered vultures?

1 minute ago

Zoologists from the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin are proposing an ingenious idea to help conserve populations of African white-backed vultures. The iconic birds, which play a critical ...

Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

41 minutes ago

Amargosa voles, small rodents that inhabit rare marshes of the Mojave Desert, have faced dire circumstances in recent years. Loss of habitat, extreme drought and climate change brought this subspecies of ...

Sex-loving, meat-eating reptiles have shorter lives

2 hours ago

The health risks and benefits of vegetarianism have long been discussed in relation to the human diet, but newly published research reveals that it's definitely of benefit to the reptile population. That, ...

US charges safari owners with illegal rhino hunts

14 hours ago

Two South African men were charged Thursday by the US government with conspiracy to sell illegal rhinoceros hunts to American hunters, money laundering and secretly trafficking in rhino horns.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

godistruth
not rated yet Oct 14, 2011
So what are these chemicals doing to us ?