In the 1970s, there was a number of toxic chemicals banned from being used again. Despite this law, a team of scientists has recently found traces of these compounds deep in the ocean. Another worrisome aspect of the situation is that the banned chemicals penetrated areas that were never before touched by human influence. After they had taken samples of marine organisms, the results showed that these regions are more contaminated than the most polluted waters in the entire world.
On Monday, the journal Natural Ecology and Evolution published a concerning paper about the marine environment. The recent study proves what used to be merely an idea. Different parts of the ocean are more interlinked than scientists thought. Before this discovery, people believed that the deepest levels of the ocean do not share the same experiences that unravel at the surface.
The team of researchers is from the University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute in Great Britain. They started off the study by focusing on two kinds of banned chemicals only. These are polybrominated diphenyl ethers, also known as PBDEs, and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. They picked these two toxins as they are some of the most dangerous chemicals. They can cause severe health problems such as reproductive, neurological, and immune issues. Before the 1970s, people used to employ PCBs in manufacturing electrical equipment. Whereas for PBDEs, these were useful in flame retardants.
Despite the fact that these compounds were banned more than 40 years ago, there are still serious side effects to the environment because of them. The reason why this was possible is due to their resilient nature. These substances can lay intact for a long period of time. They can also cling to moving particles, which is probably how they managed to enter areas of the deep ocean. Another property of theirs is the capacity to bioaccumulate. This means that once they infect an organism, they can build up in there.
The study looked to search the Mariana Trench and the Kermadec trench for the presence of these two banned chemicals. The samples they collected showed them that both areas had all their species of amphipod infected with PCBs and PBDEs. The paper stated that the level of contamination could be compared only to the Japanese Suruga Bay. This is located in the most industrialized areas in the world.
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