Contaminants in polar bears

Updated 2005-10-03

Polar bears are at the top of the arctic marine food chain. Owing to the high lipid content of their diet, polar bears appear particularly prone to bioaccumulate organochlorines. Polar bears from East Greenland and Svalbard have higher contaminant levels than polar bears elsewhere in the Arctic. Levels of PCBs in these areas might negatively affect reproduction and survival. So far more than 130 polar bear samples have been collected since 1999. These samples are being analysed for organochlorines and pathological effects.

This is a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project

Time frame

Project time span
1998 - 2006
Data collection
1999 - 2006
Data processing
2001 - 2006
Data reporting
2001 - 2006

Contact information

Contact person
Rune Dietz
NERI Frederiksborgvej 399 4000, Roskilde, Denmark
+45 46301938
+45 46301914
Other project contacts
Christian Sonne, NERI

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Biological effects
Heavy metals
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Marine mammals


Regions studied
Marine TDC

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
Data centres
Marine TDC
If no (or only part of data are reported to a TDC), where and how are (other) data stored?
The contaminant concentrations will be reported
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?
Specimen banking information

Tissues of polar bear

Methods & Procedures

Not specified

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

Hvidovre Hospital, Denmark Kgl. Veterinær og Landbohøjskole, Denmark Carleton University, Canadian Wildlife Service, Canada National Water Research Institute, Burlington, Canada Norgen Tekniske og Naturvidenskabelige Universitet, Trondheim, Norway

Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?

IUCN, International Polar Bear Specialist Group

Indigenous AND traditional knowledge used in this project

Inuit hunters are collecting the polar bears samples during their traditional hunt. In addition an interview investigation has been carried out among the hunters in East Greenland to reveal information on the polar bear health, distribution and migration patterns.

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