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STATES CHRONICLE – Pollution has reached even the deepest areas of the Pacific Ocean threatening a lot of species. Industrial pollution has contaminated even the most remote corners of the world. Scientists have revealed a high level of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Kermadec and Mariana trenches. These two represent some of the deepest chasms on Earth.
Alan Jamieson, a marine ecologist at Newcastle University in England, has published a paper this week in the Nature Ecology & Evolution magazine. The study revealed that trenches had been thought to be pristine areas, but contaminants which entered the marine environment managed to sink very deep. The polychlorinated biphenyls were banned back in the 1970s.
The chemical substance was used in the past as coolant fluid and dielectric in capacitors, transformers, and other such electrical devices. Approximately 1.3 million tons of the material was produced. About 35% of that is currently migrating in coastal sediments. The study unveils that this substance is known as being a persistent organic pollutant.
Such contaminants are not able to degrade in a natural way. They may also stick to a particular area for decades. This substance may bond with other types of detritus, being transported in coastal water, soil and air, polluting the environment and harming so many habitats. PCBs were even discovered to be presented in the Arctic, in an area far from the industrialized places.
Jamieson together with his colleagues has explored one of the deepest areas in the hadal zone of the ocean, a place 3.7 to 6.8 miles deep. They managed to measure the level of contaminants in the scavengers known as amphipods. This species usually live at the bottom of ocean trenches, ingesting contaminants which are found in their habitat.
Thus, these dangerous substances are stored in their fat tissue. The pollutants manage to spread through the food chain, and these animals are eaten by bigger ones, like fish. The team of researchers used deep-sea landing machines which featured traps with baits. They collected samples of three different species of amphipod from the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean and the Kermadec Trench, situated off the coast of New Zealand.
All 12 animals collected were contaminated. Irrespective of the deep area in which they live, regardless of species or trench, they were all contaminated.
Image courtesy of: flickr