Air and sea currents are carrying environmental toxins to the Arctic. These toxins are being absorbed by the entire food chain, all the way up to the top, where our furry friends the polar bears are found.
“The accumulated industrial chemicals cause diseases in the polar bears which do not lead to their immediate deaths. On the other hand, the toxins damage the bones and organs of the polar bears, their immune systems, and not least, their reproductive systems. However, the harm suffered by the population of polar bears in eastern Greenland is not yet fully understood,” says Christian Sonne. But it’s more than just the polar bears.
Christian Sonne, along with researchers from LIFE – the Faculty of Life Sciences and Aarhus University, also conducted research on the health effects of environmental toxins in Greenlandic sled dogs and Artic foxes. All of these animals are found on the top of the food chain. All of these animals suffered from genetic and developmental defects.
The only difference between the two studies is that the sled dogs and foxes had a control group – a group of animals that were not fed environmental toxins. Those not in the control group suffered from no ill effects, making it rather clear that the health complications found while analyzing the tissue and bone samples of 100 Greenlandic polar bears were caused by environmental toxins.
Even more painstakingly evident is that, if there was a control group for the foxes and sled dogs, then there was no control group for the polar bears. Considering the long-lasting effects of the health conditions found in the polar bears, I fear that our dear furry friends may be in even more trouble than we had imagined.