Utne Blogs > Environment

The Return of DDT

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: environment, global warming, DDT, insecticides, Antarctic, glaciers, penguins,

Adelie penguinDDT’s back. No, not in the form of a tortured debate about whether or not the toxic chemical really was good for malaria-plagued nations. Rather, the insecticide is seeping to a comeback via melting Antarctic glaciers. 

New Scientist reports that DDT is again showing up in penguins.

The trace levels found will not harm the birds, but the presence of the chemical could be an indication that other frozen pollutants will be released because of climate change, says Heidi Geisz, a marine biologist at Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester in the US. She led a team that sampled DDT levels in the penguins.

And here’s the more alarming bit: The DDT might have some frozen friends:

She worries that glaciers could release an alphabet soup of chemical pollutants into the ocean, including PCBs and PBDEs – industrial chemicals that have been linked to health problems in humans.

 

Image by elisfanclub, licensed under Creative Commons.