Read the full article by Tom Perkins (The Guardian)
“Norwegian Arctic ice is contaminated with alarming levels of toxic PFAS, and the chemicals may represent a major environmental stressor to the region’s wildlife, new research finds.
The Oxford University-led study’s measurements of ice around Svalbard, Norway, detected 26 types of PFAS compounds, and found when ice melts, the chemicals can move from glaciers into downstream ecosystems like Arctic fjords and tundra.
The meltwater can contain a cocktail of contaminants that includes PFAS and affects the entire food web, including plankton, fish, seal and apex animals like polar bears, which have previously been found to have high PFAS levels in their blood.
‘There’s a washout of contaminants that occurs seasonally … and some PFAS seem to be mobile during melts, which could be important to ecosystems downstream,’ said Dr William Hartz, a lead author on the study who noted a ‘doubling up effect’ on animals as climate changes and ice melts. The climate has been warming faster in Svalbard than the world’s average.
‘As a polar bear, you have exposure to toxic manmade chemicals, and stresses from a changing habitat,’ he added.
PFAS are a class of about 12,000 chemicals often used to make thousands of consumer products resist water, stains and heat. They are called ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not naturally break down, and they are linked to cancer, liver disease, kidney stress, fetal complications and other serious health problems.
Among PFAS compounds researchers found in ice at levels above US advisory drinking water limits were PFOS and PFOA, which are considered to be two of the most dangerous.”…