Pesticides travel up the food chain straight into our national parks
Study finds pesticides originating from as far away as Asia in eight Western U.S. national parks including Sequoia, Glacier and Rocky Mountain.
Wed, Jun 30 2010 at 2:16 PM
NATIONAL TREASURE: Montana's stunning Glacier National Park was found to contain high levels of both pesticides and toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Deep into the furthest reaches of America's national parks ranging from the rugged mountains of Alaska to the coast of Southern California, pollutants like pesticides are having an effect upon the environment, according to a new study cited by LiveScience.
Researchers studying pollution in eight national parks including Sequoia, Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Olympic, Mount Rainier, Denali, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and Noatak National Preserve found pollution in each one, with some contaminants originating from local agriculture or industry and others coming all the way from distant places like Asia.
The study not only provides a wake-up call about the human effect on seemingly pristine wilderness areas, but the ways in which these pollutants can spread up the food chain through bioaccumulation.
For example, if phytoplankton contain the smallest amounts of pesticides in their bodies, a fish that consumes many phytoplankton over the course of a lifetime takes all of that pollution into itself and the cycle continues.
The highest level of pesticides were found in Sequoia, Rocky Mountain and Glacier National Park.
Other pollutants enter national parks through automobile exhaust and industrial activity near the parks. A sample taken from Glacier National Park found that levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, were off the charts – most likely due to the proximity of a local aluminum smelter.
While it was beyond the scope of the study to determine the full impact of these pollutants on various species, LiveScience reports that the researchers did note disturbing effects like the feminizing of male fish at high-elevation locations.
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