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Home* News and Stories → Environmental toxins: new compounds found in Spitsbergen

Environmental toxins: new compounds found in Spitsbergen

A group of environmental toxins that is new to the Arctic has recently been traced down in Spitsbergen. The so-called siloxans are part of many cosmetics such as deodorants and others. Siloxans are very volatile, which means they can escape into the air very easily and can then be transported over large distances even to the remotest part of the globe. This in itself is enough reason for concern.

In contrast to known environmental toxins such as PCB’s, siloxans are not quickly absorbed and incorporated in the food chain, but tend to stay longer in the atmosphere. The question if this is good or bad remains to be answered. It may increase the chance of the compounds being broken down naturally, which happens under the influence of sunlight during the summer, before they can do harm to organisms. The concentration of siloxans near 1 nanogram per cubic metre of air seems to be low, but is up to 1000 times higher than for PCB’s, for example, which are known to have negative effects on species such as Polar bears and Glaucous gulls.

The environmental consequence of siloxans still needs to be investigated. Detecting them in the environment is technically difficult, which is one reason why they have been found only recently in air samples from the Arctic. The samples were taken on Zeppelinfjellet near Ny Ålesund, Spitsbergen.

The air chemistry station on Zeppelinfjellet near Ny Ålesund.

Zeppelinfjellet, Ny Ålesund.

Source: Forskning.no

last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange