Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Environment

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Introduction Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) categorize a vast assemblage of environmentally toxic compounds and have received notoriety in recent decades for their lingering presence within an ecosystem. Most POPs are lipophilic and enabling them to bioaccumulate within an ecosystem which may potentially cause long lasting damage as they are transferred through consumption of an organism’s fat content (Ritter et al. 1995). The chemical stability of POPs allows these substances to persist in an ecosystem for many years either in soils or within animal tissue (Ritter et al. 1995). The recent detection of POPs in Arctic regions has raised concern over the severity these toxins may pose to Northern ecosystems (Letcher et al. 2010). Monitoring the amount and rate that POPs are being leeched back into the North is crucial in understanding the extent of ecosystem damage as well as identifying areas of further research. Schmid et al. (2011) found that glacial fed lakes contain higher POP levels compared to non-glacial fed ones demonstrating the potential for reintroduction of these pollutants back into the ecosystem. Another study by Blais et al. (2001) produced similar results as they detected higher levels of POPs in glacial streams compared to water from valley streams and precipitation. Blais et al. also believes free suspending POPs in glacial water are more prevalent because of the low organic material in these waters; consequently enabling them to travel further before being caught by soil or organic material. The POPs in focus for this study are chlordane, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Chlordane, DDT, and PCBs have all been widely banned or reduced globally since the later qua... ... middle of paper ... ..., Bizzotto, E., Comolli, R., and M. Vighi. 2008. POPs in mountain soils from the Alps and Andes: Suggestions for a precipitation effect on altitudinal gradients. Water Air and Soil Pollution 188(1-4): 93-109. Vos, J.G., Dybing, E., Griem, H.A., Ladefoged, O., Lambre, C., Tarazona, J.V., Brant, I., and A.D. Vethaak. 2000. Health effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on wildlife, with special reference to the European situation. Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 30(1): 71-133. Wang, X.P., Yao, T.D., Wang, P.L., Yang, W., and L.D. Tian. 2008. The recent deposition of persistent organic pollutants and mercury to the Dasuopu glacier, Mt. Xixiabangma, central Himalayas. Science of the Total Environment 394: 1134-143. Wania, F., and D. Mackay. 1993. Global fractionation and cold condensation of low volatility organochlorine compounds in polar regions. Ambio, 22(1): 10-18.

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