Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Environment Essay

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Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) categorize a vast assemblage of environmentally toxic compounds and have received notoriety in recent decades for their lingering presence within an ecosystem. Most POPs are lipophilic and enabling them to bioaccumulate within an ecosystem which may potentially cause long lasting damage as they are transferred through consumption of an organism’s fat content (Ritter et al. 1995). The chemical stability of POPs allows these substances to persist in an ecosystem for many years either in soils or within animal tissue (Ritter et al. 1995). The recent detection of POPs in Arctic regions has raised concern over the severity these toxins may pose to Northern ecosystems (Letcher et al. 2010).
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A recent study by Geisz et al. (2013) found evidence of DDT accumulation in Antarctic penguins due to pollutant release from increasing ice melt. In relevance to the Northern Hemisphere, Norstrom’s et al. study in 1994 found elevated levels of POPs in aquatic mammals at various Arctic locations. Since all of these toxic POPs can accumulate in an organism’s fat content, its biomagnification and cascading effect in an ecosystem potentially poses a serious problem. Northern wildlife may be at risk if higher levels of POPs are entering the environment through glacial melt water.
DDT achieved its peak in popularity by way of its application as an insecticide in the 1940s, particularly to prevent insect vectored diseases like malaria and typhus (Ritter et al. 1995). In Ritter’s et al. (1995) assessment report on POPs, they state at high concentrations DDT is generally lethal to most invertebrates; however it is able to persist at lower concentrations causing a variety developmental, immunological, and reproductive impairments. DDTs metabolites, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD), are also toxic and chemically stable compounds which can bioaccumulate in an organism’s fat as well; therefore these compounds will also be monitored in this study. The consequences of DDTs biomagnification is best documented in its transmission to several apex bird species. Vos et al. (2000) states the risk of bioaccumulation of DDT and PCBs in birds is

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