Wind and ocean current systems bring pollutants from the southern latitudes into the Arctic. The pollutants that cause the most problems for polar bears are chemical byproducts from industrial activity and pesticides, including PCBs, DDT, and dieldrin. Many of these chemicals are lipophilic, meaning that they bond to fat molecules. This becomes a problem for polar bears because as the apex predators of the Arctic food chain, their food sources, especially seals, have increasingly concentrated levels of the pollutants in their bodies. By consuming animals with these chemicals in their bloodstream, polar bears intake high levels of pollutants, which they retain in their systems due to the large amount of fat in their bodies.
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