Danish wildlife researcher Christian Sonne said industrial pollutants like pesticides and flame retardants are causing some wild polar bears to experience degradation of their bones. He is a researcher at Aarhus University in the Department of the Arctic Environment. Polar bears in the East Greenland area are very polluted because they consume seal blubber containing the industrial contaminants. Last year a Canadian research study found persistent contaminants are a health hazard for polar bears in East Greenland. (This general effect has actually been known and studied for nearly two decades.)
It has been theorized that the industrial toxins get to polar bear territory in Greenland and Svalbard (east of Greenland) because that is where air and water currents join, and they move through the air and water from North America and Europe. Tragically, the last stop for the toxins is where many wild polar bears live. It’s been thought since 1993 that PCBs were negatively impacting polar bear birth rates there.
Of course, the mainstream media regularly references the threat to polar bears from global warming and the melting sea ice where they hunt and live. Climate change isn’t their only threat though, it is also poisoning from human-made chemicals.
“The bone density decrease was severe in some of the adult male polar bears he studied. In fact, their bones were in such bad shape that those polar bears could develop chronic osteoporosis, which leads to bone fractures and deformities.” (Source: VancouverSun.com)
Very recently, research found a sample of dogs and cats in the United States were full of flame retardants, but it did not indicate the health impact would be weakening of bones. Is Christian Sonne a step ahead of that research study? Could exposure to the same chemicals that are degrading the bones of polar bears be degrading those of American pets? What about the bones of humans exposed to the chemicals?
It wasn’t just polar bear bones that were weakened though, it is also impacting their fertility. So purchasing flame retardant-free electronics and furniture, combined with eating organic food is not only the right thing to do for polar bears, it would be the intelligent choice for the entire natural world.
Image Credit: cdubya1971