Chemicals Banned in the ‘70s are Apparently to Blame for the Massive Die-off of Orcas

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There is a new alarming study out now which speaks of how a group of industrial chemicals which were banned by people decades ago are linked to the cause of the decrease of orca whale populations which are expected to collapse over the next hundred years.

PCBs (or polychlorinated byphenils) are compounds made by man which were once used all over the place and with all sorts of purposes, from electrical appliances to household paints. In the 70s and 80s they became banned almost all over the globe after we discovered just how much harm they can do to us and our environment.

There was research conducted which linked these chemicals to disruptions caused in the immune and endocrine systems. In vertebrates, they apparently cause reproductive failure and unfortunately, this thing acts like a ripple effect through the biosphere thanks to how PCB stay unaltered in any environment and it also seems that they tend to accumulate up the food chain.

The ultimate losers of this exchange are orcas, apparently. They represent apex predators which have it the worst because they tend to accumulate such pollutants in their blubber. When PCB concentrations exceed 50 milligrams per kg of tissue, they can cause some serious health issues in marine mammals. However, in orca populations you can come across number in the hundreds to be more common.

That’s because mother whales unwillingly pass these chemicals on to their babies through the placenta or milk. It is a form of toxic heritage which is passed on from generation to generation. The new study comes at a time when nobody cared enough to study the effects on orca populations. From 19 populations examined by scientists, 10 are thought to be at high risk of collapse over the next century, due to PCB exposure.

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Laura grew up in a small town in northern Quebec. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Laura is an advocate for people with disabilities.


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