Toxins are not just a threat to the ecosystems in which they are introduced.

In a Canadian research project, a group of Inuit women in Artic Canada were tested to determine the levels of PCBs (a fat-soluble toxin used in pesticides) in their breast milk. They were found to have the highest levels of PCBs in any human population, aside from those involved in industrial accidents! At first, these women were to be a control population to compare with PCBs elsewhere in the nation. Since they were a relatively isolated community, it was thought that they would be PCB free (Oceana, 2005).

This evidence of high levels of toxins in isolated, arctic communities is a canary-in-the-mine phenomenon. All material eventually cycles through the arctic and/or Antarctic. Thus, people living in Arctic Canada are exposed to toxins used throughout the world.

PCBs enter the food chain through various sources, one of which being run off from agricultural fields. Once these compounds entire the marine ecosystem, they get into the fatty tissue of fish and climb their way up the food chain. These compounds cannot be expelled; once they are eaten, they stay within an organism. Thus, humans, who eat a variety of creatures, are exposed to high levels of PCBs that accumulate up the food chain.

In order to decrease and eventually eliminate this threat, we need to start with our oceans. If we begin to eliminate the toxins that get into the marine ecosystems, then we will also be eliminating the toxins that climb the food chain and end up in our own bodily systems.

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