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:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016   ... ("LegacyXChange" or the "Company") LegacyXChange is excited ... of its soon to be launched online site for ... https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyTLBzmZogV1y2D6bDkBX5g ) will also provide potential shareholders a ... DNA technology to an industry that is notorious for ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... LegacyXChange, Inc. (OTC: LEGX ... Protect are pleased to announce our successful effort to ... of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures against counterfeiting and ... athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured of ongoing proof ... Bill Bollander , CEO states, "By inserting ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... India , March 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... market research report "Electronic Sensors Market for Consumer ... Proximity, & Others), Application (Communication & IT, ... Geography - Global Forecast to 2022", published ... industry is expected to reach USD 26.76 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... Denver, CO (PRWEB) , ... April 29, 2016 ... ... on addressing the necessary fundamentals to transform technology into a viable company, CereScan’s ... enable growth. Mr. Kelley, a recognized leader and mentor in the Denver ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 ... company reports the Company,s CEO  was featured in ... Accelerators Enter When VCs Fear To Tread: ... Leader magazine is an essential business ... everything from emerging biotechs to Big Pharmas. Their ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... ... Cambridge Semantics, the leading provider of Smart Data analytic and data ... to The Silicon Review’s “20 Fastest Growing Big Data Companies of 2016.” , ... of end users facing some of the most complex data challenges in the industry,” ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... and RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. , ... UTHR ) announced today that Martine Rothblatt ... Therapeutics will provide an overview and update on the ... Annual Health Care Conference. The presentation will ... a.m. Eastern Time, and can be accessed via a ...
Breaking Biology Technology: