Cooper's Hawk photo by BarrytheBirder
British Columbia Cooper's Hawk
is "Most Polluted Bird" in the world
care2 (the environment and wildlife cause) has announced this week that Vancouver, British Columbia, has the dubious honour of being home to what scientists are calling "the most polluted bird" ever found in the world. That bird, a Cooper's Hawk, is dead, of course. Its body was found near a waste transfer site near Vancouver, Canada's city-jewel on our Pacific coast. Researchers analyzed the fat content in the hawk's liver and were stunned by the results. Their study, published in the 'Science of the Total Environment' revealed the hawk's liver contained more flame retardent chemicals than any bird discovered previously - anywhere. The bird's liver fat accumulated an incredible 197,000 parts per billion of polybrominated diphenyl ethers. This amount is more contamination than has been tested in an electronic waste site in China. Researchers dubbed this hawk as "flameproof". PBDEs were banned in Canada in 2000, prior to which they were commonly use a flame retardant in many personal and household products: from carpeting to computers. Old products containing PBDEs still end up in landfills. The world most polluted bird ended up with the incredible level of pollutants from what it was eating, mainly other birds and small mammals; creatures that were ingesting PBDEs and passing on that contamination in concentrated form to hawks. Longer term effects have yet to be determined but PBDEs have now been banned and there is reason for optimism. Thanks to my wife for directing me to this story.
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