SAVING POLAR BEARS FROM POISONOUS PESTICIDES
Pesticides approved for use in the United States eventually end up in the Arctic, transported along atmospheric, oceanic, and biological pathways — and endangering the health of the entire Arctic ecosystem, especially polar bears.
With every step up the food chain, pesticides are “biomagnified,” becoming more potent as they’re transferred from organism to organism. In the Arctic, that means by the time they reach polar bears — the region’s sovereign predators — they’ve also reached some of their most potent concentrations. Science links pesticides and related contaminants to suppressed immune function, endocrine disruption, reproductive-organ shrinkage, hermaphroditism, and increased cub deaths in polar bears. And these bears, already severely threatened by global warming and oil and gas development, can’t afford to be poisoning victims, too.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which registers and authorizes all legal U.S. pesticides, is required by the Endangered Species Act to evaluate pesticides’ effects on federally protected wildlife and plants before they’re OK’d for use. But though the polar bear was declared federally threatened in 2008, the EPA hasn’t done a thing to safeguard it from the silent threat of Arctic pesticide contamination.