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Environmental toxins found in polar bear brains in new study


A polar bear stands during feeding at Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, northern Germany, on October 10, 2012. The new Eismeer (polar sea) has been open for 100 days at the zoo.



A new study has shown that polar bear brains are full of environmental toxins that have leaked through the blood-brain barrier.

Danish scientists found a class of toxins known as PerFluoroAlkyl Substances, or PFASs, used in commercial cleaning and industrial products in the brains of the Arctic animals.

PFASs have been well-documented as toxic to humans and animals, causing reproductive problems and cancer.

The samples were taken from polar bears in eastern Greenland and were found in eight regions of the brain.

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Polar bears were chosen in the study as they are at the top of the food chain much the same as humans.

"If [the toxins] can cross the blood-brain barrier in polar bears, it will also be the case in humans," Aarhus researcher Rune Dietz said.

"The brain is one of the most essential parts of the body, where anthropogenic chemicals can have a severe impact."

Previous studies have shown similar chemicals in tap water in Germany and in food products in Sweden.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Toxicology Chemistry

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