Pollutants are transported in the atmosphere and by rivers and ocean currents from industrialised, densely populated and fairly large agricultural areas towards the poles in both hemispheres. The circulation patterns in the atmosphere cause the pollutants to remain in the polar areas for a long time. Easily soluble pollutants accumulate and pose a threat to the marine food chains. The top predators are especially at risk, and known effects are related to the turnover of enzymes, vitamins and hormones, and also to the immune system.

none Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

The, in part, considerable differences between the genders are of particular concern.

In connection with reproduction, females of polar bears and various species of seabirds mobilise the pollutants they have in their body and transfer them to either the fatty substances in the egg yolk or the milk in connection with periods of hunger or suckling. This affects both the mothers and their offspring.

The Norwegian Polar Institute is, in particular, studying the pollutant levels and their effects at higher trophic levels, in seabirds, arctic foxes and polar bears.

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