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This banned toxic chemical is still putting whales at risk 30 years later

A chemical that’s been banned across the world since 1986 is still harming marine wildlife. The toxin? Polychlorinated biphenyls, also known as PCBs. A recent study found dangerous levels of PCBs in marine wildlife, and orcas and bottlenose dolphins the highest levels. Their levels were so high, they were actually the largest ever recorded. Though the toxin has been banned for years, the problem comes from the fact that it’s so hard to break down, and since PCBs are fat-soluble they lead to higher levels in “blubbery marine animals”. The study found some scary results: 1) in testing 1,000 whales, dolphins, and harbor porpoises, only the porpoises didn’t have record-breaking levels. 2) surprisingly the levels of PCBs in male and females was the same. While PCBs have been illegal since 1986, they still persist in our environment, and experts are seeking ways to prevent additional PCBs from “leaking into the environment”. The concern is so great; there is a fear that killer whales in the “industrialized regions” of Europe may go extinct.

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