Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Persistent Organic Pollutants: The Danger Is Not Over

Date:
August 21, 1998
Source:
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
Summary:
Despite substantially reduced emissions of most well known persistent organic pollutants, e.g. PCBs and dioxins, the danger is far from over. The toxic substances are still present in the environment and in our bodies. Moreover, a number of similar pollutants have recently been discovered in the environment, according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Despite substantially reduced emissions of most well known persistent organic pollutants, e.g. PCBs and dioxins, the danger is far from over. The toxic substances are still present in the environment and in our bodies. Moreover, a number of similar pollutants have recently been discovered in the environment, according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

The Agency is publishing the results of the latest Swedish research on toxic pollutants in a new report, Monitor 16. The findings include animal experiments which show that the brain in young specimens can be damaged by even extremely small doses of environmental pollutants. "There is every reason to continue keeping a vigilant eye on what these chemicals are doing to the environment and to ourselves. We know, for example, that they can disrupt hormonal systems and we suspect that they can contribute to birth defects and health damage in infancy. Furthermore, many factors are still unknown regarding the effects of organic pollutants. The picture is much more complex than hitherto believed, and new substances are being discovered all the time", says project leader Niklas Johansson at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Brominated flame retardants are one of the more controversial groups of substances. The total use of these chemicals is still increasing. They are used, for example, in electronic equipment.

"It is important that the problems of toxic organic pollutants are prevented at source, i.e. making sure that substances with properties which entail a risk are not produced in the first place. But we still need to understand better how such substances affect the central nervous system, hormonal systems, the immune system and tumour formation", recommends the project group heading the research programme on persistent organic pollutants and which has advised the production of the Monitor 16 report.

Briefs from Monitor 16:

Reduced levels of toxic pollutantsFor several years, levels of DDT, PCBs, dioxins and hexachlorobenzene have fallen considerably in the Swedish natural environment. Levels of brominated flame retardants were still increasing in the 1980’s, but are now falling. However, practically nothing is known about how the abundance of most other persistent organic pollutants is changing in the environment and in ourselves.

Not more toxic pollutants in the north The general belief that toxic pollutants accumulate in northern regions can be questioned. The theory is not supported by Swedish environmental data. On the contrary, levels are considerably lower in the north of Sweden than in southern regions. Furthermore, concentrations of for example PCBs, DDT and dioxins appear to decrease at least as rapidly in northern parts of the country as in the south.

Alarming brain damage in mice Even very small doses of toxic pollutants can cause lifelong neurological disturbances in laboratory animals. Ten day-old mice exposed to a few micrograms of DDT will suffer permanent damage to the central nervous system. There are no external changes, but for the rest of their life they will endure reduced learning capacity and hyperactive behaviour, showing irreparable brain damage. Other toxic pollutants, such as PCBs and brominated flame retardants, can also cause similar effects even in small doses.

"Are human babies as sensitive as young mice? We do not know, but we cannot ignore the risk", according to Per Eriksson, scientist at the University of Uppsala. (His findings are also presented in the new report Prenatal Developmental Neurotoxicity of PCBs, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency report 4897).

Monitor 16, a broad-based popular account of ten years of Swedish research in the field of persistent organic pollutants, has also been published in English. It is written by Claes Bernes at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. The intention is to publish around ten additional reports in English, which will summarise the experiences from various aspects of this field of research.

Next week, 650 scientists from all around the world will meet in Stockholm to discuss the latest scientific findings concerning persistent organic polllutants, at the Dioxin’98 conference. The conference is organised by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the National Chemicals Inspectorate, the Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University. Sweden has long been in the forefront regarding research on toxic pollutants. For example, it was the Swedish scientist Sφren Jensen who first identified PCBs as a chemical hazard in all living things. Also, Christoffer Rappe was one of the first to be able to analyse very low levels of dioxins.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. "Persistent Organic Pollutants: The Danger Is Not Over." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/08/980821085353.htm>.
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. (1998, August 21). Persistent Organic Pollutants: The Danger Is Not Over. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/08/980821085353.htm
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. "Persistent Organic Pollutants: The Danger Is Not Over." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/08/980821085353.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — An Austrian balloon pilot has succeeded in taking a balloon deep underground, a feat which he believes is a world first. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Rescue crews finished recovering the remaining 27 bodies from atop Japan's Mount Ontake Monday. At least 31 people were killed Saturday in the mountain's first fatal volcanic event in modern history. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

AP (Sep. 27, 2014) — A volcano erupted in central Japan on Saturday, sending a large plume of ash high into the sky and prompting a warning to climbers and others to avoid the area. (Sept. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins