Polar bears and other species in Arctic ecosystems are so heavily affected by toxins because some of the most toxic chemicals, even though they have been banned, have been locked in ice in these environments. DDT and PCB’s have been banned from use now for quite some time (DDT since 1972), but have been stored in ice in the Arctic regions. With ice melting, these toxins are introduced back into the polar bears’ ecosystems, and they are susceptible to the ill effects of these chemicals, which can affect reproduction and their ability to fight off infections.
The Times Online article I’ve linked below mentions that one of the reasons polar bears and other arctic predators are affected so severely is because they eat other animals (like fish) that have toxins in their systems, so when polar bears eat, these toxins build up in their systems.
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