Black-legged kittiwak (Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute)

Environmental pollutants from industrialised parts of the world reach the Arctic via air, ocean currents, rivers and sea ice. A wide range of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals have been detected in Arctic wildlife. The levels of the most toxic trace elements (mercury and cadmium) measured in muscle and liver tissue of seabirds from the Barents Sea exceed background levels, but are low compared to those in similar seabird species from

DDT was developed as the first of the modern synthetic insecticides in the 1940s. It was initially used with great effect to combat malaria, typhus, and other insect-borne human diseases among military and civilian populations.

It was also used for insect control in crop and livestock production, institutions, homes, and gardens. Today, DDT is classified as a probable human carcinogen. There have been restrictions on the use of DDT since 1972. However, DDT has a limited use in mosquitoes control and prevention of malaria.

PBDEs are accumulating in the environment, including humans, and have shown an exponential increase over the past few decades.

The persistence and bioaccumulative characteristics of PBDEs and their similarities to known toxic PCBs, raises concern over potential human health effects, especially during early development.
PBDEs increased in the period from 1983 to 1993 and then leveled out from 1993 to 2003.