From: Reuters
Published December 12, 2005 12:00 AM

Killer Whales Most toxic Mammal in Arctic, WWF Says

LONDON — Killer whales are the most toxic mammals in the Arctic, riddled with household chemicals from around the world, the environmental pressure group WWF said on Monday.


Scientists found that the blubber of killer whales, or Orcas, taken from a fjord in Arctic Norway was full of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides and even a flame retardent often used on carpets.


The finding gives the whales the dubious distinction of ousting polar bears as most polluted Arctic mammal.


"Killer whales can be regarded as indicators of the health of our marine environment," said scientist Hans Wolkers. "The high levels of contaminants are very alarming and clearly show that the Arctic seas are not as clean as they should be."


PCBs are toxic and highly persistent. They used to be widely used in electrical goods and refrigerators, but have been banned in countries around the North Sea for several years.


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They have even been found in the breast milk of Eskimos.


Brominated flame retardents have been linked with nerve disorders and reproductive malfunction.


The research was funded by the WWF -- now known only by its initials but previously called the World Wide Fund for Nature.


"This research re-confirms that the Arctic is now a chemical sink," said WWF campaign leader Colin Butfield. "Chemicals from products that we use in our homes every day are contaminating Arctic wildlife."


He called on European Union ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to bring in tough laws to curb the chemical industry.


Source: Reuters


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