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This website provides resources on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and wastes. Valuable examples of community monitoring of health and environmental impacts of toxic chemicals are also furnished.

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Toxic substances rising in Arctic seabirds

by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

IQALUIT - Mercury and chemical flame retardants are turning up in high levels in the eggs of Arctic marine birds.

The Canadian Wildlife Service says samples gathered since the late 1970s show the toxic substances are on the rise.

The metal and other compounds are being transported through the atmosphere from the South and are ending up in the Northern food chain.

CWS research scientist Birgit Braun says high concentrations of mercury could impact the nervous system and affect the birds' behavior and reproduction.

"What we're finding is that the Arctic is turning out to be a sink for global mercury," says Braune.

"It's being transported there and once it gets into the Arctic ecosystem, it pretty much stays there. It doesn't gas back out into the atmosphere."

Braune has spent more than a decade analyzing contaminants in the eggs of arctic seabirds such as the Thick-billed Murre, the Northern Fulmar and the Black-Legged Kittiwake.

The presence of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are flame retardants found in products such as furniture, computer keyboards and airplanes, is also rising in the Arctic.

Quebec researchers found that these chemicals have increased by 40 per cent in the breast milk of Inuit women in Nunavik in the last 12 years.

While there have been efforts in some countries to have these substances banned, Braune says they're also showing up in the eggs of Arctic seabirds.

"The specimen bank has allowed us to go back in time, and see what has been going on with these and in fact, that has shown us that these brominated flame retardants are in fact increasing at quite a quick rate in Arctic seabirds."

Braune says researchers are trying to find out what impact the toxic substances are having on the birds.

She says it could be an indication of the overall health of the Arctic marine environment.

Article Posted on: http://north.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View?filename=nun-chemicalsarctic06152004


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