Melting glaciers may release DDT and contaminate Antarctic environment

May 26, 2008
Glacial Melt
Scientists report that high levels of the banned pesticide DDT drain into coastal waters each year in Antarctica, harming the environment while adding another consequence to global warming. Credit: Courtesy of Heidi N. Geisz

In an unexpected consequence of climate change, scientists are raising the possibility that glacial melting is releasing large amounts of the banned pesticide DDT, which is contaminating the environment in Antarctica. The study is scheduled for the June 1 issue of ACS’ bi-weekly journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, Heidi N. Geisz and colleagues estimate that up to 2.0-8.8 pounds of DDT are released into coastal waters annually along the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet from glacial meltwater.

The researchers point out that DDT reaches Antarctica by long-range atmospheric transport in snow, and then gets concentrated in the food chain. DDT has been banned in the northern hemisphere and has been regulated worldwide since the 1970s. Geisz found, however, that DDT levels in the Adelie penguin have been unchanged since the 1970s, despite an 80 percent reduction in global use.

Global warming may explain that contradiction, they say. As the annual winter temperature on the Antarctic Peninsula has increased by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 30 years, glaciers have retreated. The possibility that glacial meltwater has contaminated Antarctic organisms with DDT, the study says, “has compelling consequences” if global warming should continue and intensify.

Source: ACS

Explore further: New York state bans fracking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Underfire Uber ramps up rider safety

1 hour ago

Uber is ramping up driver background checks and other security measures worldwide after the smartphone-focused car-sharing service was banned in New Delhi following the alleged rape of a passenger.

US probe links NKorea to Sony hacking

1 hour ago

A U.S. official says federal investigators have now connected the Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. hacking to North Korea and are expected to make an announcement in the near future.

New York state bans fracking

1 hour ago

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique.

Sony cancels NKorea parody film release after threats

1 hour ago

Hollywood studio Sony Pictures on Wednesday abruptly canceled the December 25 release date of "The Interview," a parody film which has angered North Korea and triggered chilling threats from hackers.

Recommended for you

New York state bans fracking

12 hours ago

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he would ban hydraulic fracking in New York State, citing health concerns about the controversial oil and gas drilling technique.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.