Even in the pristine arctic wastes, the chemical effluent of industry is silently wreaking havoc.
Polar bears are under threat from polybrominated diphenyls - chemicals used in flame retardants - which have been carried to the Arctic on winds and ocean currents before entering the food chain and, finally, becoming concentrated in the region's top predator.
Scientists are unsure what effects these compounds will have on the Polar bear, but similar industrial chemicals have been shown to weaken the immune system, alter bone structure and disrupt sex hormones, and it is feared that they may cause hermaphroditism in bears.
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First Published in July 2006
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