Navigation Links
Greenland ice core reveals history of pollution in the Arctic
Date:8/19/2008

New research, reported this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that coal burning, primarily in North America and Europe, contaminated the Arctic and potentially affected human health and ecosystems in and around Earth's polar regions.

The study, titled "Coal Burning Leaves Toxic Heavy Metal Legacy in the Arctic," was conducted by the Desert Research Institute (DRI), Reno, Nev. and partially funded by the National Science Foundation.

Detailed measurements from a Greenland ice core showed pollutants from burning coal--the toxic heavy metals cadmium, thallium and lead--were much higher than expected. The catch, however, was the pollutants weren't higher at the times when researchers expected peaks.

"Conventional wisdom held that toxic heavy metals were higher in the 1960s and '70s, the peak of industrial activity in Europe and North America and certainly before implementation of Clean Air Act controls in the early 1970s," said Joe McConnell, lead researcher and director of DRI's Ultra-Trace Chemistry Laboratory.

"But it turns out pollution in southern Greenland was higher 100 years ago when North American and European economies ran on coal, before the advent of cleaner, more efficient coal burning technologies and the switch to oil and gas-based economies," McConnell said.

In fact, the research showed pollutants were two to five times higher at the beginning of the previous century than today. Pollution levels in the early 1900s also represented a 10-fold increase from preindustrial levels.

Continuous, monthly and annually averaged pollution records taken from the Greenland ice core dating from 1772-2003 produced the results. And although data showed heavy-metal pollution in the North Atlantic sector of the Arctic is substantially lower today than a century ago, McConnell and his research partner, Ross Edwards, an associate research professor at DRI, said there is still cause for concern.

"Contamination of other sectors may be increasing because of the rapid coal-driven growth of Asian economies," they wrote in the report. They argued the consequence may be greater risk to the food chain as toxic heavy metals from industrial activities in Asian nations are transported through the atmosphere and deposited in the polar regions.

Food chain contamination through toxic metal absorption from both the environment and from consumption of contaminated food sources could make its way to humans, who feed on long-lived land and marine animals such as caribou, seals and whale.

"Impacts on human health in the Arctic region haven't been determined," said McConnell. But he suggested cleaner burning coal technologies, or better yet reduced reliance on coal burning, may head off the potential problem.


'/>"/>

Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8485
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. A survivor in Greenland: A novel bacterial species is found trapped in 120,000-year-old ice
2. Study reveals surprising details of the evolution of protein translation
3. New research reveals why chili peppers are hot
4. Fossil and molecular evidence reveals the history of major marine biodiversity hotspots
5. ID Analytics Study Reveals Employees Criminal Misuse of Stolen Identities
6. Study reveals air pollution is causing widespread and serious impacts to ecosystems
7. Deep sequencing study reveals new insights into human transcriptome
8. Stroke study reveals key target for improving treatment and suggests that Gleevec may help
9. From Canada to the Caribbean: Tree leaves control their own temperature, Penn study reveals
10. New study reveals large scale conservation essential
11. Metagenomics of skin reveals insights into the human microbiome
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Greenland ice core reveals history of pollution in the Arctic
(Date:11/17/2016)... 2016  AIC announces that it has just released a new white paper authored ... scale-out plus high speed data transfer storage solutions. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161116/440463 ... ... ... Setting up a high performance computing or HPC system ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... , Nov 15, 2016 Research and Markets ... Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... ... 16.18 Billion by 2021 from USD 6.21 Billion in 2016, growing ... Growth of the bioinformatics market is driven by the growing ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016 Research and ... North America 2016-2020" report to their offering. ... North America to grow at a CAGR of ... been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from ... prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... PITTSBURGH , Dec. 8, 2016  The Board ... (PLSG), Western Pennsylvania,s only ... in leadership. In accordance with the succession plan developed ... several years, effective today, James (Jim) F. Jordan ... Executive Officer, succeeding John W. Manzetti , who ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... From ... innovation is taking over sports. On Thursday, December 15th a panel of entrepreneurs, ... disrupting the playing field at a Smart Talk session. Smart Talk will run ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Eurofins announces the appointment of Sean Murray , National Division ... Mr. Murray will bring valuable expertise to the ... leading international business teams. As the National Division Leader, he will ... status as the global leader in bio-analytical testing services. ... , , ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... England , December 8, 2016 ... has expanded its customisable SureSeqâ„¢ NGS panel range with the ... allowing fast and cost-effective study of variants in familial hypercholesterolemia ... number variation (CNV) detection on a single small panel and ... hotspot content. This includes all exons for LDLR , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: