Global warming and the resulting loss of habitat isn’t the only threat facing polar bears. According to an article in Scientific American, a new study reports that bears’ bodies hold toxic chemicals at a level 100 times greater than the acceptable risk for humans. For polar bear cubs, the risk is reportedly more than 1,000 times the threshold.
According to the article, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are created by industry and carried to the Arctic by air or ocean currents. The offenders reportedly include older chemicals like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and relatively newer ones such as perfluorinated chemicals, which are used in water-resistant fabric coatings and firefighting foam. While a ban on some chemicals over a decade ago has decreased the overall level seen in the cubs, the reduction has been offset by newer chemicals that have not yet been banned.
Read more about the study here.