Research assistant professor Kimberley Miner ’18 Ph.D. recently discovered pesticide pollutants, including the insecticide DDT, in an unlikely place: a remote Alaskan glacier and its meltwater.
The pesticides, Miner states, were deposited and stored near the surface of the Jarvis Glacier in Alaska and are more than likely transported from Asia where they are used as a preventative measure against malaria. Pesticides that contain organochlorine compounds (OCPs) are banned in many countries because exposure can result in a number of health conditions including fatigue, headache, nausea, blurry vision, tremors, confusion, cancer, coma, and death.
While the toxin concentrations are relatively low, the opportunity of bioaccumulation of pollutants in animals and fish may increase as the glacier melts. Other UMaine researchers who participated in the research include Karl Kreutz ’94G, Seth Campbell ’05G, ’08, ’10G, ’14 Ph.D., Christopher Gerbi ’05 Ph.D., Brian Perkins ’84, and Steven Bernsen. More about their research can be found here.