Article courtesy of| December 4, 2014 | | Shared as educational material
Scientists from the University of Canterbury and Northcott Research Consultants Limited examined the levels of PPCPs around New Zealand’s Scott Base and the United States’ McMurdo Station.
Waters surrounding these two Antarctic research stations on Ross Island contain active ingredients found in soaps, shampoos, lotions, and fragrances, collectively known as PPCPs–pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Traces of active ingredients were detected up to 25km from where the waste matter was discharged into the sea from the treatment plants. The researchers also examined some marine animals nearby which were exposed to these substances.Sewage from scientific research stations goes down the drain straight to seawater. Some waste materials are not being treated.
The investigating team theorize that the aquatic food chain might be exposed to micropollutants once predators consume the contaminated fish. However, more studies have to be done to determine the actual impact on marine life. According to The Guardian, this is the first time that presence of PPCPs and steroidhormones in Antarctic seas is being investigated.
Micropollutants are organic substances with toxic properties that are harmful to the environment and living organisms. Most of the products consumed daily by the humans contain micropollutants. Some examples are cosmetics, drugs, pesticides, herbicides, birth control pills, and so forth. In April this year, scientists in Spain stated that emerging pollutants in aquatic areas are responsible for the feminisation of fish in regions along the Basque coast.
Water contamination by pharmaceutical elements has been a major environmental concern for more than two decades. This is mostly caused by inefficient wastewater treatment and improper disposal of PPCPs. To map the extent of global contamination, effective methods have to be developed for better detection and resolution.