Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Report
AMAP, 2004. AMAP Assessment 2002: Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Arctic. Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP)
- Sources and Pathways of Persistent Organic Pollutants
- In general, present levels of most POPs cannot be related to known potential sources within the Arctic, and can therefore only be explained by long-range transport from lower latitudes (Hansen et al., 1996; de March et al., 1998; Macdonald et al., 2000). However, there are sources of POPs within the Arctic that have local and possibly regional significance but are minor contributors from a circumpolar perspective.
- Biological Effects
- Biological effects can be measured at different levels of biological organization, from the molecular to the ecosystem level. Biomarkers measurable at a molecular level respond early but are not readily interpreted ecologically, while measures with established ecological relevance, such as population declines or reduced reproductive rates, respond too late to have diagnostic or preventive value.
- The majority of the substances dealt with in this report are lipophilic, stable, and persistent. They are taken up by aquatic living organisms via diffusion over the gills and from food in the gastrointestinal tract. POPs, particularly organohalogen substances, cross the gill/gut membrane and enter the blood where they are quickly distributed to high lipid tissues such as the liver and adipose tissue. Metabolism and elimination are often slow, leading to a net increase of these substances in the organism over time (bioaccumulation).
- Regional and Circumpolar Levels and Trends in Abiotic and Biotic Media
- This section reviews new information on the levels and spatial trends of POPs in Arctic abiotic and biotic media available since 1996. Some earlier data which were omitted from the previous assessment are also included. Most interpretations in this chapter, including comparisons and conclusions about spatial trends, were made by scientists in charge of projects described (most are listed as contributing authors) and by the four editors.
- Temporal Variations in POP Levels
- A critical component of the assessment of POPs in the Arctic is knowledge of the temporal trends of these chemicals in the abiotic and biotic environment. The relationship between contaminant input into the Arctic and the levels and effects seen in wildlife and humans is ultimately tied to the use and restriction of these chemicals and any remedial action that is taken.