Butter Persistent Pollutants
Whether we like to think about it or not, we live our lives in a world of chemicals. They’re in the air, the rivers, the falling rain. Identifying some of those chemicals that have made their way into our environment -the so-called Persistent Organic Pollutants that’s the work of scientists all over the world. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Dr. Kevin Jones is in the Department of Environmental Science at Lancaster University in England.
“Persistent Organic Pollutants is a general term that relates to lots of different classes of compounds. And they have a range of sources. Some of these are fairly obvious, like different groups of pesticides that are deliberately made and sprayed onto agricultural systems. Others may be formed by combustion processes, coming from vehicle exhaust, for example, or from the burning of waste materials. Persistent organic pollutants are considered to be a threat to organisms at the top of food chains. And humans, being at the top of food chains, often have the highest levels or highest concentrations in their tissues. And the concern is that these chemicals, some of which are known to be, for example, cancer causers, represent a threat to us in that way. The aim of our research, really, is to try to understand the sources of Persistent Organic Pollutants, where they come from to enter into our environment on a global scale. We also try to understand how they move through the environment, through the air, through water bodies, through the food chain, and how they’re accumulating in living things and the effects they can have on living things.
Dr. Jones and his colleagues have come up with a novel way to track Persistent Organic Pollutants, using a substance that we come into contact with everyday. Can you guess what it is? We’ll find out in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.