Miserably stupid thing to be worrying about

The warming of the Arctic is releasing toxic chemicals that had been trapped in the ice and cold water, scientists have discovered.

The researchers warn that the amount of the poisons in the polar region is unknown and their release could \”undermine global efforts to reduce environmental and human exposure to them\”.

The chemicals seeping out as temperatures rise include the pesticides DDT, lindane and chlordane as well as the industrial chemicals PCBs and the fungicide hexachlorobenzene (HCB). All of these are know as persistent organics pollutants (Pops), and are banned under the 2004 Stockholm convention.

OK, so, the stocks of these chemicals which are trapped in the Arctic ice are now leaking out as the Arctic ice melts. And yes, they\’re very naughty little chemicals too.

That\’s the set up. So, how much should we care?

Not a lot.

No one\’s actually been producing these chemicals in the Arctic, there\’s not some huge reserve from the under the ice capitalist pigdog American PCB plant waiting to get out and poison us all in our beds.

What there is is that small fraction of those chemicals that we used to release to air and water which have accumulated in the Arctic. We\’ve all been exposed, the rest of the biosphere has been exposed, to these chemicals as they were released closer to home. The concentrations were rather higher, as you might imagine, nearer where they were released than that fraction which migrated to the Arctic.

By definition the levels being released are those that are lower than we\’ve all already been exposed to.

5 thoughts on “Miserably stupid thing to be worrying about”

  1. The definition of accumulation is that concentrations will increase given time as material from a large area moves to a smaller area and is stored for some length of time.

    Even without making the effort to read the paper properly or comprehend the analysis, the 2nd paragraph in the paper says “POPs may be deposited and their concentrations amplified in the region as a result of the ‘cold-trapping’ effect” – perhaps it’s not of much concern to us but it may have more serious consequences for Arctic communities and wildlife…

  2. I thought all the wildlife in the Arctic was doomed anyway or so the Greenies have been telling us. Anyway it’s good to have yet another thing to worry ourselves silly about, there just isn’t enough stuff to get all angsty about.

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