Saturday, June 10, 2023

Set up for Spanish discovery in Antarctic waters: they find antidepressants and nicotine

Microplastics are not the only pollutants threatening our oceans. Several researchers from different Spanish universities and research centers have found the presence of other contaminants, arising from human activity, in the inland and maritime waters of Antarctica. In the study, which was published today in the special journal Journal of Hazardous Materials, up to 7 pharmaceutical products were identified in the samples, including nicotine, caffeine, antidepressants or UV filters.

Recently, pharmaceutical dumping in the oceans has begun to be documented. The study, published in early 2023 in the journal Planetary Health, found antibiotic residues in water, rivers, and oceans in South Asia and the western Pacific. Other research, conducted by Florida International University, detected traces of antidepressants and heart drugs in almost all purples tested. And in both cases, the water was attributed to contamination of the drainage system: drugs or drugs had heated up the toilet.

A recently published study sheds some light on the dangers facing Antarctic waters and biota. “Nicotine and citalopram – antidepressant medication- – we did not study before Antarctica and we found them in 74% and 55% of samples” respectively “Miren López, scientific researcher at the Institute of Environmental Diagnosis and Water Studies.” (IDAEA) and study author.

[Así es el iceberg que se ha desprendido en la Antártida: fruto de la erosión y del tamaño de Gran Canaria]

The researchers analyzed samples from a variety of sources: rivers, streams, springs, and even seawater. Areas affected by anthropogenic activities (bases, camps and tourism) and areas without apparent human or animal presence were also sampled.

A graph of the spread of organic contaminants in pristine Antarctic waters. Journal of Hazardous Materials

In addition to these substances, the analgesics acetaminophen, diclofenac and ibuprofen, the regulator of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood bezafibrate, the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, the antibiotic clarithromycin, the antidepressant venlafaxine, caffeine and the anticorrosive product tolitriazole have been identified.

Anthropogenic pollution

Luis Moreno, senior scientist at the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME) confirms what many scientists were warned about a few years ago: anthropogenic pollution also affects the most remote areas of the planet.

In Antarctica, there are about 100 research facilities, which means that about 5,000 scientists live in the area at any time of the year. And this figure increases during the summer of Antarctic tourism. Several researchers have estimated that the number of visitors to the polar continent this summer has risen to over 100,000 people.

“Human activities carried out in Antarctica are responsible for the dispersion of this type of contaminant in its waters,” says Moreno. A correlation was found between human activity and the association of the three organic substances evaluated in the region. : clarithromycin, nicotine and venlafaxine.

[La intensidad de El Niño acelera el deshielo de la Antártida, alertan los científicos: “Es irreversible”]

Other organic compounds are found in the study whose presence cannot be attributed to human activity. “Indicators of biological activity such as ammonium, nitrate, nitrite and phosphate are not significant with each other or with the level of human or biological activity,” it reveals.

The work also shows that contamination of anthropic origin is only located in areas where scientific activity and tourism take place, unless they are dispersed in more remote areas. This implies that chemical contamination can be affected by different environmental processes, such as ice melting and atmospheric deposition.

A toxic soup

It has been found that Antarctica harbors different organic substances. And of particular concern would be the so-called persistent organic pollutants or eternal chemicals (POPs, for the acronym in English). In the early 1960s, this type of residue, especially the insecticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), was found in the liver and blubber of penguins and seals in the region.

And since then, many studies have reported the presence of POPs in Antarctic marine food webs. A recent study, published in April of last year in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, led by scientists at the University of Lancaster, observed the continued growth of these chemical contaminants in the Antarctic snows in recent decades. Eternal economies were not only coming in the ocean currents, but also snowing on the ground.

[Llueven químicos persistentes: el reciclado perverso y continuo de estas sustancias invisibles]

Antarctica and its waters have become, as David Attenborough once told The Telegraph, a toxic mess. Pharmaceutical products have long been added to substances of anthropogenic origin deposited on the planet’s most remote continent, which also includes microplastics, food or eternal chemicals.

“This research shows that human activities contribute to contaminants that, due to their nature, persistence and dispersal capacity, pose a potential threat to the Antarctic environment,” advises Jeronimo López, professor emeritus at the Autonomous University of Madrid and co-author of the article. .

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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