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Arctic thaw may slow crackdown on toxic chemicals

Source:  Copyright 2009, Reuters
Date:  May 4, 2009
Byline:  Alister Doyle
Original URL: Status ONLINE

A thaw of the Arctic linked to global warming may slow a drive to get rid of industrial chemicals that are harming indigenous people and wildlife, an expert said on Monday.

About 150 nations are meeting in Geneva this week to consider adding nine chemicals, including pesticides and flame retardants, to a "Dirty Dozen" banned by a 2001 U.N. pact partly inspired by worries about the fragile Arctic environment.

But an Arctic melt may be complicating the clean-up even though levels of some of the "dirty dozen" chemicals are falling in the region, said Lars-Otto Reiersen, Executive Secretary of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP).

"There's some good news and some bad news," he told Reuters.

The shrinking of summer sea ice may allow some of the dirty dozen persistent organic pollutants (POPs), long trapped under sea ice, to evaporate into the atmosphere and so spread further around the polar region, he said.

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