Effects of pollutants
Effects of pollutants have been found in animals high in the food chains in the Arctic. Impacts on the hormone and immune systems, reduced reproduction and increased offspring mortality are some of the effects found in the polar bear, glaucous gull, arctic char and harp seal. Impaired immune system and reduced reproduction show that far-transported pollutants affect populations of arctic animals.
Too little is known yet about the sources, dispersal and effects of pollutants, especially about how climate change may affect the pollution situation in the Arctic.
Research in this area is difficult to perform, partly because free-living animals are always exposed to a cocktail of pollutants, each of which may have very different effects on each other and the organisms on which they impact.
Knowledge about the transport and uptake of pollutants, and developments over time in arctic organisms, is very important for those concerned with commercial activities (for example, fishermen and fish exporters), as well as management and health authorities. Safe food is important for everyone.
The Norwegian Polar Institute carries out research on species that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, especially those that depend on ice for their survival.
Latest articles on pollutants
Master thesis project on arctic ecotoxicology – Pollutant effects in walruses
The Norwegian Polar Institute and UiT The Arctic University of Norway are looking for a student to a master thesis project that will examine contaminant related health effects in walruses from Svalbard. Walrus samples will be analyzed for pollutants, hormone levels and immunological responses. In addition they will be analyzed for mRNA expression of genes related to hormone disruption and immune suppression.
International prohibition of the pesticide endosulfan
In early May the Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to ban use of the pesticide endosulfan. This pesticide has highly detrimental effects not only on human health but also in the environment, where it persists and can be transported over long distances.
Pesticides in Svalbard snow
Scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute and the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) have investigated the amount of pesticides in the snow in Svalbard. Read about their findings here.