Killer whale with high levels of PCBs

Lulu the killer whale died last year, caught in fishing rope.  Results have now been published about tests on her carcass.  Lulu had incredibly high levels of PCBs in her body, one hundred times accepted levels.  This likely made her infertile, and PCB also makes killer whales prone to poor immunity and cancer.

The killer whale population has been declining and PCB is likely a big reason why.

PCBs were banned in the US in 1979, but for over fifty years the chemical was used in refrigerators, electrical insulators, and sprayed on roads.  Of course, chemicals entered the water system and did not simply disappear.

A killer whale, near the top of the food chain, would have high levels of PCB since each level of the food chain would have consumed the chemical.

If this story makes you wonder what’s lurking in your seafood meal, you are not overly paranoid.  Fish and other seafood often have dangerous chemicals that we ingest.  Therefore, it is wise to limit seafood consumption and check environmental standards of your seafood through sites like Seafood Watch by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.




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