Yngvar Thomassen: the situation with biological and chemical pollution is alarming
Within the framework of the IV International Summer School of Graduate Students of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, Professor, Leading scientist of Arctic biomonitoring laboratory of NArFU Yngvar Thomassen made a presentation. He spoke about why it is important to conduct biological monitoring in the Arctic region.
Bioaccumulation is the accumulation of persistent organic pollutants in fatty tissues, milk and blood of living organisms.
Indigenous peoples of the Arctic are at risk of exposure to persistent pollutants, because their food includes a large number of fish and meat of wild animals, which, as a result of adaptation to arctic conditions, contain a lot of fat.
Organic pollution is carried by wind from the south and sedimented in soil and ocean, where they accumulate. For example, during the tsunami in Japan in 2011, contaminants entered the ocean, which later found themselves in fish. Another way of transporting harmful substances is with the help of birds. They have a huge migration route, now, for example, they are returning to the North from Pakistan, where the entire winter period remained, and pesticides can bring with them. If they become part of the food chain, these harmful substances will enter the human body. In each new part of the food chain, the concentration of toxic substances increases.
According to data on epidemiology and research, the relationship between long-term exposure to pesticides and disruption of growth and development, a slowdown in neurobehavioral development, cancer, and an increase in susceptibility to infections is implied. The most vulnerable to exposure to pesticides are infants up to 6 months old, people over 65, pregnant women, individuals with weak immunity and chronic diseases.
The situation with biological and chemical pollution is alarming, especially in Chukotka. Only seven food contaminants are under constant control. The Even Autonomous Okrug and the Magadan Region were marked by the top values of food contaminants compared to other regions.
Human biomonitoring allows us to assess how and what substances from the environment penetrate into our body, and also how their impact can change with time. By measuring the concentration of natural and synthetic constituents in body fluids or tissues, biomonitoring can provide valuable information on the effects of the environment and in some cases help identify potential health risks.
Biomonitoring is an integral part of managing human health risks from exposure to pollutants, including the ability to analyze risks and benefits for people who eat traditional foods. Biomonitoring is currently used in eight Arctic countries.
"As part of the agreement on cooperation between me and the university, I'm not only the lead researcher at the Arctic biomonitoring laboratory, opened this year, but also giving lectures to students. My colleagues asked me to give lectures at this summer school. The program of the school is very extensive and interesting," Yngvar Thomassen said.
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