Pesticide DDT shows up in Antarctic penguins

The pesticide DDT, banned decades ago in much of the world, still shows up in penguins in Antarctica, probably due to the chemical's accumulation in melting glaciers, Reuters reported a sea bird expert as saying on Friday.

Adelie penguins have long shown evidence of DDT in their fatty tissues, although not in enough concentration to hurt the birds, according to Heidi Geisz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. But researchers were surprised to find that even after DDT was banned in much of the world in the 1970s, the level of the pesticide in their fat has still not declined.

The findings show that persistent organic pollutants like DDT accumulate and become concentrated in the Antarctic ecosystem. The pesticide is easily detectable in glacier melt water, the report said. Adelies feed off tiny creatures called krill that live in melted  glacier water, and DDT is transmitted up the food chain directly to the penguins.

See full story