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.