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Researchers Discover Most Polluted Bird in the World

posted: 04/24/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Cooper's Hawk
JillLang/iStock

A Cooper's hawk discovered outside of Vancouver is so contaminated by flame retardants that researchers are calling it "flameproof".

Researchers made the harrowing discovery while taking liver samples from birds of prey. The levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the Cooper's hawk were 196 parts per million, notably higher than in birds found in electronic waste dumps in China.

PBDEs, a flame retardant once used extensively in vehicles, consumer electronics and home furnishings, came under fire in the early 2000s for their high toxicity. They are now regulated under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and many are banned in the European Union, Canada, Maine, Washington state and California. Nonetheless, they continue to accumulate in landfills and have devastating impacts on local ecosystems.

"We were surprised to see such high levels of contaminants in what I think of as 'green' city. We can only hope that because many forms of PBDEs have now been banned and the levels of these contaminants are rapidly disappearing from herons and cormorants in Vancouver, the same will be true for other bird species," said study co-author Professor Kyle Elliott.

Click here for more information from McGill University

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