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Orcas are full of PCBs

Orcas off Washington State in the Pacific Northwest are so full of pollutants that it is making them sick, researchers have found.
Orca - killer whale
 
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Writing in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, U.S. and Canadian scientists have reported that the levels of PCBs, a long-banned industrial chemical in blubber from orcas that frequent Puget Sound, was still high enough to cause health problems.

The chemicals cling to fat and can cause reproductive and immunological problems. While the researchers noted a slight decline in the level of PCBs over time, the chemical lingers on 30 years after it was banned,

Another recent publication predicted that problems from PCB contamination would plague the local orcas for at least 60 more years.

Also troubling was the increase in the amount of commonly used flame retardants called PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are structurally similar to PCBs and can cause similar ailments. Thousands of tons of PBDEs are added to TVs, computers and furniture cushions among other items to make them fire-resistant. They can last for years in the environment.

Washington leaders earlier this year approved a ban on some uses of the chemicals because of health worries.

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