What causes environmental damage in the Arctic? According to ACIA (ACIA Scientific Report 2005, Cambridge University Press), heavy metals and POP´s are especially concerning pollutants in the Arctic region. Especially damaging heavy metals include in the Arctic region include mercury, cadmium and lead (AMAP 2002: Arctic Pollution Issues: A State of the Arctic Environment Report; McConnell* Joseph R. and Edwards Ross. PNAS 2008. vol. 105 no. 34 – Coal burning leaves toxic heavy metal legacy in the Arctic), sources of which were largely unknown until the 1980´s when modern measurements started. Today it is known that industrial activities, including coal burning, emit toxic heavy metals that travel through the atmosphere, ending up deposited in the polar regions (McConnell* Joseph R. and Edwards Ross. PNAS 2008. vol. 105 no. 34).
POP´s (Persistent Organic Pollutants) in the Arctic region, on the other hand, transported through the atmosphere through a number of ways, e.g. air and water, are toxic chemicals that pose severe risks to both human health and the environment worldwide. (The Arctic Institute 2016. Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Arctic – Infographic). Furthermore, according to the Arctic Institute, these POP´s (e.g. PCBs, DDT and dioxins) are especially dangerous due to their persistence and longevity in the environment, posing risks not only to our environment in general, but to the whole food chain. Most of the POP´s originate not from the Arctic but from industrial processes such as municipal and medical waste. (The Arctic Institute 2016. Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Arctic – Infographic).
Learn more about Heavy Metals in the Environment – NRES Seminar Series (Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Secondary Major at Kansas State University):
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