Research shows Arctic animals and humans experience pollution-induced thyroid damage
According to research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Arctic animals and fish - including polar bears, ivory gulls and Greenland sledge dogs - have shown signs of pollution damage, such as thyroid disruption. Much of the toxins that have reached the North Pole are ingested by Americans every day.
The research is important because it shows how industrial pollutants from western Europe, North America and Asia travel by air and ocean currents. This may explain why the approximately 2,500 polar bears that live on the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard have some of the highest levels of toxic organic pollutants of any creatures on Earth.
NTNU biologist and professor Bjørn Munro Jenssen and colleagues have researched the effects of pollutants and climate change in a project called Bear Health.
In the journal Science of the Total Environment
, researchers recorded the presence of persistent organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls and flame retardants in the bodies of arctic wildlife. Scientists agree that researching how these toxins affect animals that are high on the food chain, such as bears, can help them understand the effects on humans as well.