Friday, May 13, 2011

How is pollution affecting polar bears?

According to Christian Sonne, Danish wildlife veterinarian and toxicologist, pollution coming from the industry in form of organic pollutants (mostly pesticides and flame retardants) is having a serious negative impact on polar bears by changing their genitals and bones.

Polar bear population most affected with these pollutants is at East Greenland because the bear diet in this area primarily depends on pollutants-loaded blubber from ringed and bearded seals.

Sonne discovered that the bone density decrease was severe in some of the adult male polar bears he studied. These bears had their bones in such a bad shape that they were at the brink of developing chronic osteoporosis, a main cause for bone fractures and deformities.

The fertility and reproduction of polar bears is also heavily affected with an increased level of pollution. The male bears that had higher level of pesticides in their body had the smaller size and weight of their testicles not to mention that the ovary size and weight in female bears also decreases as pollutant levels rise.

Climate change still remains the biggest threat for polar bears but the increased levels of pollution have also started taking heavy toll on polar bear population. These majestic land predators are highly adapted to icy Arctic' environment but sadly for them Arctic’s ice is disappearing at an alarming rate.

The polar bears aren't the only animals in Arctic that are heavily affected with pollution. Sonne also discovered that Arctic's famous sled dogs are also heavily affected by contaminants from a diet heavy in marine mammal blubber, because it is weakening their immune system.

Pollution is affecting our entire planet and Arctic area has the misfortune of being particularly sensitive to almost any environmental change. The combination of climate change and pollution could irreversibly change the life on Arctic as we currently know it and bring many Arctic animals on the brink of extinction.


  1. Adrienne Kaskie *June 30, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    More people should be aware of the threats pollution causes to these gorgeous and seriously endangered creatures. Climate change is ofcourse a serious threat but people seem to think of climate change as somthing we are unable to stop (untrue), pollution though falls in the direct category of man made and also can be stopped by man. These types of articles on the affects of pollution to polar bears should be more easily available as i found this one very diffucult to find but also very glad i did. I was unaware of these facts and will pass them on to the ignorant people i meet on the street. Thanks!

  2. that is some good info

  3. Thanks, very informative and helpful.