Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Climate Change: A Worst-Case Combination for Arctic Marine Mammals and Seabirds?

These results indicate that female polar bears could be more susceptible than males to Thyroid hormones -related effects of persistent organic pollutants

Bjørn Munro Jenssen


Scholarcy highlights

  • Before the 17th century the anthropogenic impact on Arctic ecosystems was restricted to a sustainable level by a very limited number of indigenous inhabitants, and most of the Arctic was untouched by humans
  • Examples of persistent organic pollutants found in Arctic marine mammals and seabirds are industrial organochlorines such as polychlorinated biphenyls, hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans, and polychlorinated naphthalenes, as well as OC pesticides such as dichlorophenyltrichloroethane and its metabolites, chlordane, heptachlor, dieldrin, endrin, and mirex
  • Because of structural similarities with endogenous hormones, abilities to interact with hormone transport proteins, or abilities to disrupt hormone metabolism, many POPs can mimic or in some cases block the effects of the endogenous hormones
  • In a recent study these relationships were studied in more detail, and it was found that PCBs affected five Thyroid hormones variables in females but only two variables in males. These results indicate that female polar bears could be more susceptible than males to TH-related effects of POPs
  • Climate change is likely to pose additional stress to individuals, and, because different endocrine systems are important for enabling animals to respond adequately to environmental stress, endocrine-disrupting chemicals may interefere with adaptation to increased stress situations
  • Knowledge of the responses of animals to multiple natural and anthropogenic stressors is at the present time not sufficient for investigators to forecast the combined effects of these two stressors
  • There is a need for more focus on the interacting effects of multiple stressors on wildlife

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