PCBs in Polar bears alarm scientists

Norwegian, Russian scientists find immune system damage in Barents Sea bear population

Research by Norwegian and Russian scientists has suggested that long-distance transport of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to the Arctic could be threatening Polar bears. An international scientific team returned recently from the Svalbard archipelago in the Barents Sea, after extensive fieldwork, which included capturing 124 Polar bears for tests. The data on PCBs have yet to be fully analysed, but Polar bear expert Andrew Derocha, a researcher with the Norwegian Polar Institute, says that he is worried. "We are not sure of the implications," he told ENDS Daily today. "But we are definitely seeing signs of impaired immune response with increasing levels of PCBs [in Polar bears]....The long-term concern is for reproduction, immune system and behaviour." "We believe we have long-range transport [of PCBs] into the Barents Sea....Our particular concern is that the Svalbard population is one of the only ones in the world that is not harvested; but it is also the most polluted population.

Follow Up:
Norwegian Polar Institute, tel: +47 776 06700

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