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: Scientists to explore USVI reefs as part of 12-year project

Related Stories

Flocks of starlings ride the wave to escape

3 hours ago

Why does it seem as if a dark band ripples through a flock of European starlings that are steering clear of a falcon or a hawk? It all lies in the birds' ability to quickly and repeatedly dip to one side to avoid being attacked. ...

Blue Freedom uses power of flowing water to charge

3 hours ago

Good friends may decide to tell you something that is not true but nonetheless sustaining: Nothing is impossible. That was the case of Blue Freedom co-founder who asked his friend if it would be possible ...

Recommended for you

Lights out in Australia as Earth Hour kicks off

Mar 28, 2015

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the sails on the nearby Opera House went dark Saturday, as lights on landmarks around Australia were switched off for the global climate change awareness campaign Earth Hour.

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.