Cetaceans at risk from pollution
TWO WEEKS after a killer whale was found dead on Tiree, an unconnected report claims killer whales could face extinction in European waters due to pollution as a result of lingering toxic chemicals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The report by the Zoological Society of London is based on long-term studies of more than 1,000 deceased whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans), whose blubber was found to contain one of the highest concentrations of PCBs in the world.
PCBs are a group of manmade chemicals previously used in products such as flame-retardants and paints.
High exposure to PCBs is known to weaken cetacean immune systems and reduce breeding success by leading to abortions or damaging newborn calves.