New proof of Arctic toxins

The Fulmars, which are one of the ordinary seabirds, is the newest proof of the widespread presence of environmental toxins in the Arctic. Investigations on Fulmar from Bjørnøya (Bear Island) indicate that the level of PCB, dioxins and mercury in Arctic animal tissue could be much worse than previously believed.

A study by the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) commissioned by the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) indicates that Fulmars that are nesting on Bjørnøya (Bear Island) show a wider spread of environmental toxins to the Arctic than the scientists have previously thought. The results are also a important confirmation of environmental toxins since the Fulmars, a heavy short-tailed oceanic bird of polar regions, do not live further south.

New proof of Arctic toxins

Dangerous for Fulmars

Environmental toxins are also dangerous for Fulmars. Research shows that the level of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl, a toxic pollutant used in manufacturing plastics) and dioxins in Fulmars on Bjørnøya are high enough to cause a negative effect on bird eggs. The research results will be used within international science and management, and is an important supplement to other investigations in the Arctic that have confirmed the presence of known and `new` environmental toxins such as perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs).

Much mercury

The report also shows that there are relatively high levels of mercury in Fulmars compared to other sea bird spices in the Arctic. The levels correspond to those that have previously been registered in Polar Seagull. The levels are well below deadly doses, but still close to concentrations that have caused malnutrition and chronic diseases among other bird populations.

Facts about Fulmars

Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) is related to the albatross, but this grey and white seabird looks almost gull-like. It can drink seawater, and it flies low over the sea on stiff wings and shallow wingbeats most of it’s life, except during nesting where it lays only one egg. They are known to defend their nests from intruders by spitting out a foul-smelling oil. In Norway they are called “havhest”, but also “kjalk” and “makrellmåke”.

New proof of Arctic toxins

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