By BJ Bjornson
PCBs, DDT and other so-called persistent organic pollutants have been banned, or at least heavily restricted for at least a decade, and global levels of said pollutants have been dropping, but it appears that our inability to bring the same kind of international cooperation to bear on regulating carbon emissions may reverse, or at least slow that decline.
Climate change is boosting levels of banned pollutants such as PCBs and DDT in the atmosphere, Canadian, Chinese and Norwegian scientists have found.
A "wide range" of persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, have been increasingly released into the Arctic atmosphere since the early 1990s, says the study led by Environment Canada scientist Jianmin Ma, "confirming that Arctic warming could undermine global efforts to reduce environmental and human exposure to these toxic chemicals."
The study, published Sunday in Nature Climate Change, links higher summer air temperatures and lower sea ice cover to increasing levels of POPs. That suggests that POPs previously trapped in water, snow and ice could be released back into the air as the ice melts, allowing them to travel long distances through the environment.
In retrospect, expecting the Arctic ice to be a long-term storage medium probably wasn�t the best idea, but this is still pretty sad news. As we head towards what looks like it may be another record low melt season, any chance we had that the world�s ice sheets were going to store these toxins away for a long time is pretty much hopeless.