Glacial melting may release pollutants in the environment

Oct 21, 2009
Pollutants from melting glaciers may help explain an increase in persistent organic pollutants in certain lakes since the 1990s, despite decreased used of pesticides. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Those pristine-looking Alpine glaciers now melting as global warming sets in may explain the mysterious increase in persistent organic pollutants in sediment from certain lakes since the 1990s, despite decreased use of those compounds in pesticides, electric equipment, paints and other products. That's the conclusion of a new study, scheduled for the Nov. 1 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, Christian Bogdal and colleagues focused on organic pollutants in from a model body of water -- glacier-fed Lake Oberaar in the Bernese Alps, Switzerland -- testing for the persistent , including dioxins, PCBs, organochlorine and synthetic musk fragrances. They found that while contamination decreased to low levels in the 1980s and 1990s due to tougher regulations and improvements in products, since the late 1990s flow of all of these pollutants into the lake has increased sharply. Currently, the flow of organochlorines into the lake is similar to or even higher than in the 1960s and 1970s, the report states.

The study attributed the most recent spike in the flow of pollutants into Lake Oberaar to the accelerated release of organic chemicals from melting Alpine , where contaminants were deposited earlier and preserved over decades. "Considering ongoing global warming and accelerated massive glacial melting predicted for the future, our study indicates the potential for environmental impacts due to pollutants delivered into pristine mountainous areas," Bogdal said.

More information: Environmental Science & Technology, pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/p… ll/10.1021/es901628x

Source: American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Switzerland 1st country to submit pledge for UN climate pact

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists expect increased melting of mountain glaciers

Jan 20, 2006

Sea level rise due to increased melting of mountain glaciers and polar ice caps will be much lower in the 21st Century than previously estimated. However, decay of mountain glaciers in due to global warming will be much more ...

Environmental pollutant has sex-skewing effect

Jul 15, 2008

Women exposed to high levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls – a group of banned environmental pollutants) are less likely to give birth to male children. A study published today in BioMed Central's open access journal ...

Recommended for you

Engineers are making strides in reducing air pollution

Feb 27, 2015

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average adult breathes 3,000 gallons of air per day—yet the same air that fuels our bodies also can harm them. In fact, inhaling certain air pollutants ...

Depth of plastic pollution in oceans revealed

Feb 27, 2015

Wind and waves can mix buoyant ocean plastics throughout the water column, but most of their mass remains at the sea surface, according to research led by The University of Western Australia.

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.