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Chemical From Pesticides, Non-Stick Cookware Now Found in Birds, Dolphins

First Posted: Oct 19, 2016 05:55 AM EDT
Dolphins, birds' blood samples now contain chemicals that are found in non stick cookware and pesticides.
Dolphins, birds' blood samples now contain chemicals that are found in non stick cookware and pesticides.
(Photo : David McNew / Stringer / Getty Images)

Industrial compound perfluoroalkyls and its related chemicals, a component of non-stick cookware products, namely teflons and defoamers in surfactants and pesticides, are now being traced in the natural ecosystem as well. ACS Journal on Environmental Science and Technology recently published a report that highlighted the traces of perfluoroalkyl compounds, especially perfluoroalkyl phosphinic acids (PFPIAs) in the collected blood samples of dolphins, birds and fish in certain areas of North America. Their findings showed that all the samples had 100 percent detection frequency for the presence of PFPIA.

The research was based on samples collected from different years. For example, plasma of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) used was samples from Sarasota Bay, Florida and Charleston Harbor, Southern Carolina that were obtained in 2004-2009.

On the other hand, two samples of Northern pike (Esox lucius) from two different locations were collected in 2011 (near Montreal Island, St. Lawrence River, Canada). For the aerial species, samples of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritius) were also obtained from flocks found in the Great Lakes between 2010 and 2012.

Though the above mentioned chemical was found to be present in all the species, PFPIA's potential as a risky compound is still unexplored. These chemicals are persistent but their associations to risks one human life are not clearly established since the studies conducted on PFPIAs are very limited.

However, results for previous laboratory tests on animals have linked increased level of perfluoroalkyl to problems in the developmental, hormonal and immune systems of the subjects. Development of cancer cells on liver, pancreas and reproductive organs were also observed among laboratory animals that were subjected to high levels of similarly related compounds. There were also cases of neurotoxicity and decreased number of live births on experimented rats with perfluoroalkyls.

Amila De Silva and other authors of the study indicated that PFPIA's concentration on the samples were quite low but presence of the compound on all of the samples was interesting enough to encourage further investigation on the compound's effects. Since one can be sure that these compounds would accumulate over a period of time due to their persistence, it is important to know what can happen if the concentration in the ecosystem elevates.

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