Toxins Drop in Arctic Wildlife

Arctic animals are showing less toxic chemicals overall, but more mercury.

A new study by the Canadian government shows that levels of toxic chemicals in animals across the Arctic are dropping. The study concluded that carcinogens such as PCBs, DDT, chlordane and toxaphene have largely leveled off or have begun declining in Arctic animals after years on the rise.

According to Laurie Chan, the University of Northern British Columbia researcher who led the study, falling toxin levels in Arctic animals are proof that international environmental agreements on limiting the use of toxic chemicals are have a real positive impact on food safety and the health of wildlife in the Arctic and beyond. "That's good news," she told reporters.

Researchers remain concerned, however, about rising mercury levels in animals studied, especially as developing nations around the world continue to up their use of coal to provide cheap electricity. Airborne mercury, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants, finds its way into waterways and oceans where wildlife can ingest it unwittingly.

Source: Canadian Press