70. Arctic contamination *Torkjel Sandanger

Interview with Torkjel Sandanger, UiT; Tromsø, March 2015

« The concentrations have been extremely high, these contaminants in the people who live there. They have no alternatives. All of the sudden there are these big circumpolar studies and you find high levels, but at the same time you know that this is the only food they can have. They’re also informed that it contains contamination. So this « arctic dilemma » is how do you balance the information about the possible negative effects of these contaminants with the information that you should eat healthy or, if that’s the only thing you have to eat, how do you inform the people that live there? »

« In terms of health effect, the problem in part is to have good studies that show that the contamination cause an effect, because we are exposed to… Today, you and I, if I took a blood sample of you I would find between two and four hundred contaminants in your blood. So even though the concentrations of many of these compounds have come down, a lot of the complexity has increased dramatically the last decades. »

« This arctic dilemma with the contamination, I like to flip it around with the Southern dilemma, because the most efficient way to prevent malaria, in Southern countries or African, is to use DDT, which is prohibited. So DDT saves… DDT has been re-introduced in some of Africa, in some areas, the worst malaria areas. I don’t remember exactly which year, but around 2009 or 2008, DDT was brought back and the mortality rate from malaria dropped. So it’s extremely efficient, but DDT ends up in the Arctic as DDE, as the metabolyte DDE. »

« The climate change affects the species themselves, in terms of food. The spawning of the cod is expected to move further north, so the fish stock will no longer be in Lofoten, possibly. But it could also, increased temperature and less ice cover could lead to revitalization of some of the contaminants. It could all of a sudden have a remobilization, and increase again in some levels. »

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