Melting Arctic ice is dangerous to the environment not only because of rising sea levels. In recent decades, the so-called "Eternal" chemicals have accumulated in glaciers, which flow into the water due to melting ice.
We are talking about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that do not decompose in the natural environment, Environmental Science & Technology writes.
PFAS is not subject to natural decomposition. Once the compounds are released into the atmosphere, they are stored in Arctic ice.
A new study from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom has revealed unknown dangerous consequences for this process. Scientists have found that the concentration of PFAS in ice is closely related to the salinity of the water. The higher it is, the higher the percentage of chemicals.
In an era of global warming, glaciers go through melting and freezing cycles. The scientists said that this process creates "pockets" of highly salty water, which contains a large supply of PFAS. Eventually, these highly concentrated chemicals will flow into the sea again after the ice has melted.
PFAS is toxic to both humans and animals. They can cause liver disease and inhibit fetal development during pregnancy.
Scientists have found that the concentration of PFAS on the surface of the Arctic ice was twice as high as in the North Sea.
It was found that when water melts, it carries a large percentage of the salts dissolved in it. It also contained large amounts of "eternal" chemicals. The study authors emphasized that the longer the warming period, the longer PFAS has to exit into the surrounding ocean.