A new study by scientists has suggested that the melting of the Antarctic glaciers might be leading to the release of large amounts of the banned pesticide DDT, which is contaminating the environment in Antarctica.
In the study, scientist Heidi N. Geisz and colleagues estimate that up to 2.0 - 8.8 pounds of DDT are released into coastal waters annually along the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet from glacial meltwater.
The researchers point out that DDT reaches Antarctica by long-range atmospheric transport in snow, and then gets concentrated in the food chain.
DDT has been banned in the northern hemisphere and has been regulated worldwide since the 1970s.
However, Geisz found that DDT levels in the Adelie penguin have been unchanged since the 1970s, despite an 80 percent reduction in global use.
According to scientists, global warming may explain that contradiction.
As the annual winter temperature on the Antarctic Peninsula has increased by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 30 years, glaciers have retreated.
The possibility that glacial meltwater has contaminated Antarctic organisms with DDT, according to the study, has compelling consequences if global warming should continue and intensify.