by Daniel Brouse
EARTH — How much of the Earth have humans polluted? Scientists sent robots to the bottom of the ocean… deeper than man has ever explored. The findings are disturbing.
“We often think deep-sea trenches are remote and pristine, untouched by humans,” says Alan Jamieson, a deep-ocean researcher at the University of Aberdeen, UK. “It’s even higher than in the estuaries of two of the most polluted rivers — the Pearl River and the Liao River — in China.”
“Crustaceans at depths of 10,000 metres contain higher concentrations of chemicals than do some animals in coastal waters.”
The small animals retrieved from the ocean’s bottom contained PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls used to make plastics and as anti-fouling agents to stop barnacles from growing on ships’ hulls), as well as, flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, PBDEs).
“It’s really surprising to find pollutants so deep in the ocean at such high concentrations,” said Jeffrey Drazen, a marine ecologist at the University of Hawaii.
The findings raise concern about how microbial activities are adversely affected, the impact on the carbon cycle and climate change.