Birds of prey and what they can tell us about the chemical pollution crisis.
On Sunday, this week, the Guardian published a story: How birds of prey are exposing a toxic time bomb. It reported on scientific studies that have found harmful chemicals in the bodies of birds of prey who perch at the top of their food chain. Chemical concentration in top predators can be used as an alert system for the wider environment.
The article delves further into several recent studies, and highlights how chemical pollution is affecting people and wildlife around the globe. For example, one study covered in the article looked at 30 white tailed eagles from northern Germany and found 85 different contaminants in the birds, including pharmaceuticals, musk fragrances, pesticides and PFAS. Other raptor studies detected new types of flame retardants, UV filters from sunscreens and plastic additives such as bisphenols.
A further study looking at Eurasian eagle owls in Norway found a vast range of harmful chemicals, including PFAS, also known as, ‘the forever chemicals,’ in their feathers.
The article also talks about the importance of looking at mixtures of chemicals in the human population.
In a paper published by environmental epidemiologist Carl-Gustaf Bornehag, who runs an endocrine disruptor biomonitoring project called Selma, he and his co-authors explain how we need to consider the extensive mix of endocrine disruptors we are exposed to, to truly judge our risk. Their study found that mixes of certain chemicals, such as BPA, phthalates and various PFAS, were associated with a language delay in children. Other biomonitoring studies in the EU have found that a lot more needs to be done to protect the general population from endocrine disrupting chemicals.
CHEM Trust has been highlighting the issues raised in the article for many years. This year we published a report looking at the impact of chemical cocktails on ourselves and wildlife. We are also calling for the most hazardous chemicals used in consumer products to be banned across the EU and UK. Check out more of our work here