Scientists have recently discovered toxic flame retardant chemical (PBDEs) more than six miles below the surface of the ocean. Apparently humankind’s use of toxic chemicals has left an awfully deep footprint.
…veteran deep-water scientists are shocked by the latest discovery at the very bottom of the sea: toxic pollution – lots of it.
Tiny shrimp-like crustaceans living in the Mariana Trench, one of the world’s most remote habitats, are laced with staggering levels of industrial chemicals, according to a new study. Scientists found that some of the Mariana crustaceans are more contaminated with the harmful pollutants called PCBs than crabs living in waters fed by one of China’s most polluted rivers.
The scientists found high levels of flame retardants in the bodies of similar crustaceans living in the Kermadec Trench, the world’s fifth-deepest and more than 4,000 miles from the Mariana.
Humans have left a “footprint in the deepest places in the world,” said study co-author Alan Jamieson of Britain’s Newcastle University.
“Not only are (the pollutants) in every single sample, regardless of species, depth, trench, whatever, the concentrations are extraordinarily high. That was a big surprise.”
Cancer and other health problems in animals have been linked to PCBs, and their manufacture was phased out decades ago. The flame retardants found at high levels in the Kermadec amphipods belong to a class of chemicals called PBDEs. Lab tests have tied PBDEs to thyroid problems, and many countries are phasing out their use.
Humans may think that anything dumped in the ocean “magically disappears,” Jamieson said. “It doesn’t magically disappear. It ends up somewhere. … There’s no such thing as out of sight, out of mind.”
Journal source: Jamie, A., et al. Bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in the deepest ocean fauna, Nature Ecology & Evolution 1, Article number: 0051 (2017) doi:10.1038/s41559-016-0051