Sunday, December 19, 2010
Cancer Can Be Caused By Melting Glaciers
Scientists have warned that melting glaciers and ice sheets are releasing cancer-causing pollutants into the air and oceans. The long-lasting chemicals get into the food chain and build up in people's bodies, triggering tumors, heart disease and infertility. Scientists are concerned about a class of man-made toxins called Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs, because they last decades in the environment and accumulate in body tissue. They include pesticides such as DDT and chemicals called PCBs used in electrical goods.
Donald Cooper, of the United Nations Environment Program, which published the report at the UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, said melting glaciers and ice sheets were releasing POPs trapped years ago into the air and seas. Extreme weather events were releasing banned pollutants which been stockpiled ready to be destroyed. And higher temperatures were likely to increase the spread of malaria – and increase the use of sprays such as DDT which are harmful to people.
In the past pollutants have traveled long distances and become trapped in ice in glaciers and ice sheets. But as the ice melts, or when temperatures go up, they are released back into the seas and atmosphere.
The UN study found that levels of POPs measured in breast milk and blood were rising in parts of the world. PCBs were banned after studies showed they mimicked sex hormones and were linked to cancer and infertility.