Polar Bears Harmed by Environmental Toxins

Written by on October 15, 2011 in Marine Life

Emily Tripp
Senior Writer

A new thesis explains how industrial chemicals are harming polar bears.  These industrial chemicals are transported from industrial cities to the Arctic on boats and planes, where the cocktail of environmental toxins is incorporated into the food chain.

“The accumulated industrial chemicals cause diseases in the polar bears which do not lead to their immediate deaths.  On the other hand, the toxins damage the bones and organs of the polar bears, their immune systems and not least their reproductive systems.  However, the harm suffered by the population of polar bears in eastern Greenland is not yet fully understood,” explains Christian Sonne, Senior Scientists at Aarhus University.  Sonne recently defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Copenhagen.

Sonne, in collaboration with LIFE — the Faculty of Life Sciences and Aarhus University made conclusions from ten years of research, ending in 2010.  Research focused on the effects of contaminants on the health of polar bears.  He also analyzed tissue and bone samples from 100 east Greenlandic polar bears.

The full title of the doctoral thesis is “Health effects from long-range transported contaminants in Arctic top predators: An integrated review based on studies of polar bears and relevant model species”.


Polar bear mother and cub. Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Polar bear mother and cub. Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Copyright ©  2011 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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