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 bearglaucous 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.

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