January 31, 2023

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Orcas: Discovered Chemical Caused by Future Extinction

In a recent study, the Institute of Marine and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and the Community of Fisheries and Oceans Scientists of Canada analyzed tissue samples from six killer whales from a clan known as the Society. Southern resident killer whalesand six Big’s killer whales the beach They found that chemical pollutants were high in orcas, with one chemical, often found in toilet paper, being the most prevalent in the samples examined, accounting for 46% of the total pollutants identified. was invited 4-Nonylphenol Or 4NP, the compound is listed as a toxic substance in Canada and can interact with the nervous system and affect cognitive function, the authors say. “This research is a wake-up call. Southern resident killer whales are facing declining populations and pollutants are contributing. Decline their population. If we want to protect this species, we can’t wait any longer,” said co-author Dr. Juan José Alava, Principal Investigator of the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries’ (IOF) Marine Pollution Research Unit.

4NP is often used in pulp and paper processing, soap, detergent and textile processing. It can escape into the ocean via sewage treatment plants and industrial discharges, where it is ingested by smaller organisms and travels up the food chain to large predators such as killer whales. It’s called a “contaminant of emerging concern,” or CEC, meaning pollutants in the environment that aren’t well studied. regulated. “Very little is known about both the distribution and health implications of 4NP because it has been studied in few marine mammals. This study is the first to detect 4NP in orcas,” said first author Kia Lee, who conducted the research as an undergraduate at UBC. “This research is another example of an approach that considers human, animal and environmental health, using orcas as a case study to better understand the potential impact of these and other compounds on animal health and ecosystems,” said co-author Dr. Stephen Raverty, Veterinary Pathologist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

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Chemicals forever

More than half of the pollutants identified by the researchers are “permanent chemicals,” or PFAS extension, because they do not degrade easily, they last longer in the environment, move easily through air and water, and even travel long distances. They are widely used in food packaging materials, water and stain repellent fabrics, cookware and fire extinguishers. Many are listed as new Persistent organic pollutants (POP) are toxic substances released into the environment by human activities that have negative effects on human and animal health. There are many Forbidden In Canada.

According to the researchers, the most common pollutant in this group is 7:3-fluorotelomer carboxylic acid, or 7:3 FTCA. There are currently no restrictions on the production and use of 7:3 FTCA, but one of its potential parent products is part of the list of toxic substances proposed to be recognized as new POPs by the European Chemicals Agency under the international agreement Stockholm. Conference on POPs. “This compound has not been found before in this part of Canada, and it has been detected in killer whales, which are a top predator. This means contaminants are entering the food system,” says Dr. Alava.

Transfer from mother to fetus

Researchers are the first to study the transfer of pollutants from mother to fetus in a pair of southern habitat species. They found that all identified pollutants were transferred into the uterus 95% of 4NP It is transferred from mother to fetus.

It’s not just orcas that are affected, Dr. Alava said. “We also eat mammals and Pacific salmon, so we have to think about how this might affect our health and the other seafood we consume.” Governments can help protect marine life and other marine life by preventing the production of chemicals of concern, including emerging POPs such as 4NP and 7:3 FTCA, as well as identifying and addressing potential sources of marine pollution.

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