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European coastal pollution is harmful to seals
Date:3/22/2011

g broken down". The researchers also analysed 19 types of polychlorinated biphenyls, which are considered to be the most toxic chemical compounds because of their similarity to dioxins (carcinogenic compounds).

These mammals show up high levels of various metals and organochloride pollutants from the Elbe river. The seals also display higher levels of gamma globulins and antibodies (measurements of immunity) than other animals that do not live in the estuary, which suggests that there are a high amount of disease-causing agents (pathogens) in this area.

Heavy metals are natural elements that do not break down. "Humans extract them from mines, where they are immobile, concentrate them and release them into the environment", explains Prez Luzardo.

The study was carried out on five seals, because they are "adult wild animals that are very difficult to catch without harming them in any way", the researcher adds. He is currently working on another project involving a larger sample of 36 animals.

The researchers are currently analysing how this kind of pollution affects human beings and animal species such as sea turtles from the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.


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