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What is Bioaccumulation?

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Presentation on theme: "What is Bioaccumulation?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What is Bioaccumulation?
It is the gradual build-up of chemicals in living organisms. Many harmful chemicals cannot be decomposed naturally. Synthetic and organic chemicals build up in the environment when decomposers cannot break them down through biodegradation. A chemical will accumulate and be stored faster than it is broken down. These chemicals can be eaten or absorbed and sometimes cannot be removed from the body of the organism effectively. (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

2 Organisms are sometimes exposed to toxic chemicals.
Bioaccumulation Chemicals enter organisms through skin, food intake or respiration. Chemicals can affect the nervous, immune and reproductive systems of animals. If a keystone species suffers a chemical bioaccumulation, it can affect every other organism in its far-reaching niches. A keystone species is a vital part of an ecosystem because these species greatly affect the populations numbers and health of an ecosystem. Organisms are sometimes exposed to toxic chemicals. See page 94 (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

3 Effect of Bioaccumulation on Ecosystems
Amphibians live on both land and in the water. Amphibians are sensitive to chemical changes in the environment and are therefore valuable indicators of environmental health. Since the 1980s, many of the world’s amphibian species have suffered declines in population. There also have been alarming increases in amphibian birth deformities. Many theories attempt to explain these changes, including drought, increased UV rays, pollution, habitat loss, parasites, and diseases. Amphibians, like this frog, have exhibited drastic changes since the 1980s. See pages (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

4 Biomagnification Biomagnification is the process by which chemicals become more concentrated at each trophic level. At each level of the food pyramid, chemicals that do not get broken down build up in organisms. When a consumer in the next trophic level eats organisms with a chemical accumulation, it receives a huge dose of the chemical(s). (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

5 Bioaccumulation in BC An example of bioaccumulation in British Columbia is the effect of PCBs on the Orca. PCBs are chemicals that were used for many industrial and electrical applications in the mid-20th century. PCBs were banned in 1977 because of their environmental impact. PCBs bioaccumulate and have a long half-life (they break down very slowly). PCBs will affect the reproductive cycles of orcas until at least 2030. The bio accumulation of PCBs begins with the absorption of the chemicals by microscopic plants and algae. See page 95 (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

6 Persistent organic pollutants
Chemicals like PCBs and DDT are called persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs contain carbon, like all organic compounds, and remain in water and soil for many years. Many POPs are insecticides, used to control pest populations. DDT was introduced in 1941 to control mosquito populations, and is still used in some places in the world. Like PCBs, DDT also bioaccumulates and has a long half-life. Even at low levels (5 ppm), DDT in animals can cause nervous, immune, and reproductive system disorders. ppm = parts per million Spraying DDT, 1958 See page 96 (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

7 Heavy metals Heavy metals are metallic elements that are toxic to organisms. Levels of lead in the soil have increased due to human activities. Lead is not considered safe at any level. Many electronics contain lead and must be recycled carefully. Lead can cause anemia and nervous and reproductive system damage. Electronics Waste Contains Lead. See page 97 (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

8 Cadmium is also found in low levels naturally.
Cadmium is used in the manufacture of plastics and nickel-cadmium batteries. It is toxic to earthworms and causes many health problems in fish. In humans, the main source of cadmium is exposure to cigarette smoke. Cadmium causes lung diseases, cancer, and nervous and immune system damage. (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

9 Mercury Mercury also is found naturally.
Mercury has entered ecosystems through the burning of fossil fuels, waste incineration, mining, and the manufacture of items like batteries. Coal burning accounts for 40 percent of the mercury released into the atmosphere. Mercury bioaccumulates in the brain, heart and kidneys of many animals. Mercury compounds bioaccumulate in fish, adding risk for any organisms eating fish. See pages (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

10 Reducing the effects of chemical pollution
Bioremediation is the use of micro-organisms or plants to help clean up toxic chemicals. Example: the oil industry uses natural products and naturally occurring bacteria to “eat” oil spills. Example: using to deal with toxic solvents found in contaminated soil. (c) McGraw Hill Ryerson 2007

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