Scientists have discovered excessive concentrations of pollutants like PCBs and PBDEs persist in amphipods found in the Mariana and Kermadec Trenches in the Pacific Ocean. The chemicals were used widely in the course of the 20th century before being finally phased out in the 1970s.
In a study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, a team led by Dr Alan Jamieson from the University of Newcastle looked at levels of pollutants in the fatty tissues of the deep-sea crustaceans, which were retrieved using special vehicles. Among the contaminants found were polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which were once used as flame retardants and electrical insulators.
In an effort to compare the new results with those obtained from other sites, the scientific team say that the highest levels of PCBs found in the Mariana Trench amphipods were some 50 times greater than in crabs living near one of the most polluted rivers in China, the Liaohe River. According to the researchers, the contaminants found their way into the trenches via plastic debris as well as dead animals sinking to the ocean floor.
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