Scientists discover 1970s banned chemicals in deep ocean fauna

Scientists for the first time have found high levels of human-made pollutants, including chemicals that were banned in the 1970s, in the tissues of marine creatures dwelling in the deepest oceans of the Earth. The study was led by Alan Jamieson, from the Newcastle University, U.K and the research was published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. These chemicals were discovered after sampling amphipods from the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which are over 10 km deep and 7,000 km apart. Scientists were shocked by the high amount of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which were most commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants. The report also mentions that these chemicals are invulnerable to natural degradation.

Scientists sampled amphipods from the Marina and Kernadec Trenches and uncovered high levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the organism’s fatty tissue. In fact, the pollutants are so widespread that their conditions were similar to the amphipods that contained similar contamination levels in Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted industrial zones of the north-west pacific. The study has revealed the first evidence that human-made pollutants have now reached the extreme corners of the Earth.Dr Jamieson points out to the fact that the deep ocean is far from being remote, is highly connected to the surface waters and is exposed to significant concentrations of human-made pollutants. This implies that what we dump at the bottom of the sea will one day come back up in some form. This is a matter of concern for the entire ecosystem. He mentions that it is unclear what the pollution found in the amphipods meant for the wider ecosystem and more research needs to be done to find that out.

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