By Clement Kent
The best overall reference on POP (Persistent Organic Pollutants) in the Arctic on the Web is at the site of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) in their 1997 assessment report, which is chapter 6 (Persistent Organic Pollutants) of the document "Arctic Pollution Issues: A State of the Arctic Environment Report" published by AMAP in 1997.
Other worthwhile chapters include:
Note to those preparing papers! A wonderful database of graphs and illustrations is available from AMAP. These are based on published papers but reformatted for the web. The graphs have references allowing you to find the original publications. The main AMAP site also has recent updates on POPs; the results of a new survey and assessment of the literature is due out in 2002.
There are many other references available on the web about Arctic POP. They can in turn lead you to the original published literature, which is voluminous. I have put some of my favorite sites below, as of April 2001.
Since this is a Canadian web site, let's give a cheer to our own researchers and activists, to whom those in Canada can turn for a local perspective. The names of D. W. Schindler, D. Mackay, E. Dewailly, F. Wania, R.J. Norstrom are just a few of those prominent in research. Searching for articles by these scientists will lead you to their many colleauges and students. Any omissions from this list are due solely to my limited knowledge of the literature and the need for brevity, not any deliberate omission.
On the activism and politics front, a few of the many names that might be mentioned include Sheila Watt-Cloutier, the members of CARC (Canadian Arctic Resources Committee), Greenpeace, and many others.
|Summaries and social and political issues||Environmental chemistry of POP||How POP gets to the Arctic|
|Studies of toxicity of POP||How much POP is found in Arctic organisms?||Arctic ecosystems and POP|
|Where else do POPs matter?||Sites devoted to specific animals||People and POP|
- Pollution of the "Pristine" Arctic - In this article at her lively web site, recent York University Biology graduate Suzanne Currie gives a quick overview of Arctic pollution issues plus an outline of a hypothetical research proposal for more study. A great example of what a student can do on the web!
- CARC - An Arctic Pollution Primer - CARC (Canadian Arctic Resources Committee) has a number of past newsletters on its web site with some excellent general summaries of pollution issues in the Arctic. This article summarizes POP origins, health effects, and distribution.
- CARC - POPs treaty a victory - CARC director reports on the succesful conclusion of the POP treaty negotiations. Other reports linked on this page tell about earlier phases of the treaty process.
- Arctic POPs declining - newspaper report of research showing levels of banned POPs are slowly declining in the abiotic environment. Note comments that they still (1999) find an annual spike in DDT due to spraying in South America or Asia
- Don't ban DDT - A serious debate took place during the POP treaty negotiations on retaining DDT for malarial mosquito control. The article at this site however is a good example of the support mustered by right-wing US "?think-tanks?" for retaining any and all chemicals which US manufacturers can still profitably sell in the 3rd world. Compare to the comments in the previous link about still finding fresh DDT spikes, and draw your own conclusions.
- Mercury Sunrise in Canadian Arctic - although mercury isn't a POP it's like them in many ways. This disturbing report of research on Ellesmere Island and in Alaska shows we still have a lot to learn about environmental chemistry. Stay humble!
- Canadian Environmental Modelling Centre - home site. This centre based at Trent University does a great deal of research into modelling the distribution and fate of pollutants in the ecosystem. There are a number of interesting references on their site, of which I list a few below.
- Global models - Look for the section in this newsletter on the global models of POP, "to identify how use in tropical and temperate regions result in contamination in polar regions, especially the Canadian Arctic." One result of this research is a discovery about HCH (a component of lindane). "Incredibly it now appears that about half the HCH remaining on the planet currently resides in the Arctic where it tends to be "trapped in cold storage""
- Bioaccumulation models - A review by Alison Fraser of bioaccumulation models.
- Downloadable models - For the serious researcher, teacher, or student, the software in this section can be used to model the movement and fate of several POPs in the environment. Some of these models have been used in teaching at Trent and Windsor Universities.
- Arctic Atlas - article on DDT - this site has a series of readable and informative pages on each of many POPs. Others include: PCB, HCH/lindane, Lead, Cadmium, Mercury
- How Dioxin gets to the Arctic - News summary of the Commoner/Nunavut dioxin transport study.
- Commoner et al. 2000 - Full text (PDF format) of the Commoner Nunavut report on dioxin transport to the Arctic
- Rocky Mountain POPs on High - Not available online - this paper documents POP distillation/condensation in the Canadian Rockies:
Blais, Jules M., David W. Schindler, Derek C. G. Muir, Lynda E. Kimpes, David B. Donald, and Bruno Rosenberg. 1998 (October 8).
Accumulation of persistent organochlorine compounds in mountains of western Canada. Nature. 395:585-588.
from the abstract:
"The upper reaches of high mountains are similar to high-latitude regions in that they too are characterized by relatively low average temperatures, but the accumulation of organochlorine compounds as a function of altitude has not yet been documented. Here we report organochlorine deposition in snow from mountain ranges in western Canada that show a 10- to 100-fold increase between 770 and 3,100 m altitude. In the case of less-volatile compounds, the observed increase by a factor of 10 is simply due to a 10-fold increase in snowfall over the altitude range of the sampling sites. In the case of the more-volatile organochlorines, cold-condensation effects further enhance the concentration of these compounds with increasing altitude. These findings demonstrate that temperate-zone mountain regions, which tend to receive high levels of precipitation while being close to pollutant sources, are particularly susceptible to the accumulation of semivolatile organochlorine compounds."
- Environment Canada Wildlife Toxicology Division - contains numerous studies on the toxicology of POPs
- Polar Bears and Contaminants - description of a study to determine effects of POPs such as PCBs and dioxins on polar bear liver enzymes and other enzyme systems, including during times of fasting.
- Polar Bear PCBs on Svalbard - summary shows Svalbard polar bears are highly contaminated; claims made that lower reproduction is occuring (5 out of 14 females actual versus 12 of 14 expected).
- Svalbard Bears show Immune Suppression - Norwegian research shows Svalbard polar bears have lowering of immunoglobulin levels in proportion to their body concentration of PCBs. This article has good references to current literature.
- Svalbard Bears in trouble? - Norwegian research shows some Svalbard female polar bears have pseudohermaphroditism - both male and female external genitalia. Further, a drop in discovery of older bears is leading to concerns the population may be threatened.
- PCB and DDT metabolites - A study from the team at the Research Section, Environment Canada, who are prominent in studying POPs in Canadian wildlife.
- Polar Bear PCBs - study showing levels in various Arctic locations.
- Arctic Atlas - PCB in fulmars - this site from Columbia university contains maps of PCB and other POP concentrations in various species and compartments in the Arctic. Other maps of PCB concentrations are: murre, walrus, beluga, ringed seal, polar bears, arctic char, caribou
- Kidd, Schindler et al. on POP in Arctic lakes: Sorry, couldn't find these online (except for the summaries of them in the AMAP pages) - but here are the journal references:
Kidd, Karen A., David W. Schindler, Derek C. G. Muir, W. Lyle Lockhart, and Raymond H. Hesslein. 1995 (July 14). High concentrations of toxaphene in fishes from a subarctic lake. Science. 269(5221):240-243.
Kidd, Karen A., David W. Schindler, Raymond H. Hesslein, and Derek C. G. Muir. 1998. Effects of trophic position and lipid on organochlorine concentrations in fishes from subarctic lakes in Yukon Territory. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 55:869-881.
- POPs and Trophic structure on Bear Island - a full paper available on the web from Norwegian researchers, showing the effect of differing trophic web depths on POP accumulation in Arctic Char. Good companion to the Kidd,Schindler et al. studies of Lake Laberge. Published as:
Skotvold, T., E. Wartena & M. Schlabach (1998).
Persistent organic contaminants in Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) on Bear Island,
Organoh. Componds, 39, 411-414.
- Sierra Frogs and POP - brief summary of work on POP and Sierra Nevada frog populations in California
- Sierra Frogs - the study - More detailed description of the study by D. W. Sparling et al. of the USGS. This site describes the study format but not the published results. See the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
- POP and Coffee - An article in e-magazine on use of pesticides in coffee growing. Note comment on DDT use.
- Bananas and pesticides - A summary site whhich will point you to more details
- Bananas in Costa Rica - A detailed study by Dr. Yamileth Astorga of pesticide use in Costa Rican banana plantations and the effect on workers' health. Also contains comparisons to banana cultivation in Africa.
- Polar Whales - A study focussing on polar whales from the web site of the Swiss Whale organization (who says being landlocked means you can't care about the sea?). There are numerous excellent chapters with many references here - check the table of contents for more info.
- Visual Beluga - This page from the Canadian Environmental Modelling Center includes a description of work on "Visual Beluga", a program which models contaminant bioaccumulation in beluga whales.
- Immune deficiencies in Inuit children - Press release describing recent research linking POP in Inuit children and their mothers to a higher than normal incidence and duration of ear infections.
- PCBs and neurodegeneration - A news summary of research in the Great Lakes area.
- PCBs and learning deficits - News summary describing ongoing work studying possible links between PCBs and childhood learning deficits in the Great Lakes region.
- Mexican POP - News summary of possible health effects of POP spraying on Mexican children
- Greenpeace on Dioxin - a good summary of health effects in this article.
Copyright 2001 by Clement Kent, c l e m e n t @ g o d e l . n e t
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