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polar bear on dirt USFWS
US Fisheries and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
polar bears and every other living thing are all part of Earth’s living system. If that system changes so that it is no longer friendly to polar bears, then it may not be friendly to many other species, including humans. So we need to look at the polar bears’ problems as a warning for ourselves.http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/projects/wherepolarbears.pdf
USFWS Polar Bear Plan Cover http://www.fws.gov/alaska/PDFs/PBRT%20Recovery%20Plan%20Book.pdf

The US Fisheries and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has a draft Polar Bear Conservation plan. There are only an estimated 22 to 25 thousand polar bears alive, worldwide, compared to 7.3 billion people. While the plan discusses some other toxins found in arctic water, it fails to discuss the impact of radionuclides on polar bears, even though radionuclides are present in the arctic (see below), and continue to accumulate from routine and accidental releases from nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, etc. Radionuclides are also there from historic nuclear weapons testing.

The USFWS needs to include the radiological and chemical impacts of radionuclides on polar bears.

Furthermore, they need to do research on the radiological and chemical impacts of radionuclides on the sea ice. Radionuclides emit high amounts of ionizing radiation, so they must have some impact on ice. Where is the research on this? There are also chemical impacts. Furthermore, tritiated water (radioactive water) freezes at a different temperature than non-radioactive water. The impacts of krypton on the climate and environment are discussed here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/climate-risks-from-nuclear-power-radioactive-krypton-85-atmospheric-electrical-and-air-chemical-effects-of-ionizing-radiation-in-the-atmosphere/

All of these concerns need to be researched and addressed in the Polar Bear Conservation Plan. Comment on Draft Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan until 19 Sept. 2015 11.59 pm Eastern Time US (i.e. New York-Wash DC time) http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R7-ES-2014-0060-0001 (That’s next Saturday, which is not normal, but that’s what it says.) Plan: http://www.fws.gov/alaska/PDFs/PBRT%20Recovery%20Plan%20Book.pdf

Radionuclides are legally released into the air and water by operating nuclear reactors, as well as nuclear waste processing facilities, especially Sellafield and La Hague. Nuclear waste sites are also allowed to leach radionuclides into air and water. Then, there is Fukushima Daiichi which also continues to belch and pour radionuclides into air and water, by TEPCO’s own admission. You can be certain that Japan does any venting of radiation when the wind is blowing offshore, toward North America. When Japan dumps radioactive water into the ocean it is picked up by currents and part goes to the Arctic. Even Chernobyl seems to be still leaking.

Radioisotopes from Windscale, now Sellafield, on the Irish Sea have been found in the Arctic Ocean at depths of 1500 m (Livington et al., 1984), indicating a transit time of 8 to 10 years.(Sarmiento, 1987). A more recent map is below.

A 2015 EU summary page states: More recently, releases [of radioactive iodine 129] have increased to around 300 kg per year, mainly from the French plant. Once in the seas, coastal currents can transport 129 I through the North Sea and along the Norwegian coast to the Arctic Ocean… (see page below). Their data is from 2007 research, thus it excludes the additional impacts from the ever-leaking Fukushima Daiichi reactors. Radioactive Iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years. Contrary to popular belief, over time, it is as hazardous as the better known Iodine 131 (half life 8 days), and, per becquerel, Iodine 129 is actually more dangerous. There are fewer becquerels per gram, but Iodine 129 stays in the thyroid (120 days) and environment (15.7 million years) much longer. “The thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls the body’s sensitivity to other hormones. It participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones, the principal ones being thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which is more active. These hormones regulate the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body. T3 and T4 are synthesized from iodine and tyrosine. The thyroid also produces calcitonin, which plays a role in calcium homeostasis.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thyroid Thus, iodine is necessary for the synthesis of thyroid hormones and, in turn, “Thyroid hormones (THs) are essential for metabolism and thermoregulation in arctic animals. (Gabrielsen et. al. 2015)

Do polar bears have thyroid problems? Yes, according to a recent study, says Radford (2015). Did the researchers consider a possible role of radioactive iodine! Did they examine their thyroids? Apparently no, and no.

Instead the “researchers” (Gabrielsen et. al.) seem to have only chosen to examine what may be spurious correlations and ignore the obvious. Based on the abstract and summary by Radford (2015), they have chosen to correlate an increase of other non-radiological toxins with thyroid damage in polar bears, ignoring the question of radioactive iodine and not even examining the thyroids. They state that they examined other organs but the thyroid is not mentioned. One can guess that one or more governments took the thyroids and left the other organs to the researchers. Their research seems to be based on the fact that chlorine is chemically similar to iodine – they are both halogens. And, by the way, halogens are also acids and oxidizing agents. And, radiolysis of water could also contribute to the acidification of oceans. Nonetheless, the body of human or polar bears should choose iodide, including radioactive iodide (129 or 131) over chloride, fluoride, bromide, etc. where given the option. This is one reason that radioactive iodine should be examined first, as a causative factor in polar bear thyroid problems.

The researchers not only apparently ignore the issue of impact of radionuclides in the arctic on polar bears, but they thus also ignore the possibility of synergistic effects – where one plus one is more than two.

This apparent oversight by researchers is probably due to the blinkered, narrow-minded, nature of most academia, as well as more than half a century of refusal to examine these questions, first due to the Cold War, and then by habit. They would also need more specialized equipment to test for radionuclides.

Research is only as good as the questions asked. And, they apparently didn’t ask all of the questions. For years everyone has looked up and down and all around for what causes this and that disease, and totally overlooked the problem of radionuclides in the environment, which may well be why one day something is good for us and the next day bad for us. Perhaps first the food didn’t have radiation in it, and then it did. There is alarm over BPA in canned sardines, without consideration that radiation in sardines should be a bigger concern, especially as the bones, which may be filled with radioactive strontium, plutonium, and americium, are generally consumed.
A circumpolar map shows the locations of polar bear populations around the northern polar region. Credit: Norwegian Polar Institute
Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Circumpolar Map of Polar Bear Populations. A circumpolar map shows the locations of polar bear populations around the northern polar region. Credit: Norwegian Polar Institute

Polar bears are the largest carnivores and a unique symbol of the Arctic. Nineteen populations of polar bears are distributed in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. The world wide population is estimated to be 22,000-25,000 bears. Two populations occur in Alaska: the southern Beaufort Sea stock, shared with Canada; and the Bering Chukchi/Seas stock, shared with the Russian Federation (Range Map) http://www.fws.gov/alaska/fisheries/mmm/polarbear/pbmain.htm

Radioactive iodine in Arctic sea ice may have European origin  European Union http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/radioactive_iodine_in_arctic_sea_may_have_european_origin_407na7_en.pdf (Highlight and underline added)

Ocean transport of radioactive waste – a benchmark for models In a new study radioactive waste material from Sellafield and La Hague is used to shed light on ocean currents in the Nordic Seas, the Arctic Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean, and to test the performance of an ocean model in this region…
Figure of Iodine-129 in deep layers of the Atlantic Ocean: The map shows the simulated concentration of Iodine-129, Orr et. al. 2009 bjerknes.uib.no
Figure of Iodine-129 in deep layers of the Atlantic Ocean: The map shows the simulated concentration of Iodine-129 (the logarithm of number of Iodine-129 atoms per liter seawater) in the depth of the Atlantic Ocean… This work is a part of the project Arctic Radioactive Contamination, financed by the Research Council of Norway. Reference: Orre, S., J.N. Smith, V. Alfimov, and M. Bentsen (2009): Simulating transport of 129I and idealized tracers in the northern North Atlantic Ocean, Environmental Fluid Mechanics“, http://www2.bjerknes.uib.no/pages.asp?id=1756&kat=8&lang=2

Older, but more detailed, information on La Hague and Sellafield emissions and their impacts it found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/document_travail/stoa/2000/170100/04A-STOA_DT(2000)170100_EN.doc They mention OSPAR. However, OSPAR seems to have two major loopholes – pipelines and offshore facilities seem to be the loopholes, which would allow both Sellafield and La Hague to emit radionuclides to the sea via pipelines, and also be a loophole allowing the offshore oil and gas industry to dump NORM. There seems to be some checking of becquerel levels mentioned in some places for OSPAR, but if they decide they are dangerously high what will they do? Filter the ocean? Furthermore, the study discussed above says that much is airborne. Sellafield planned to build (ca 2011), and perhaps did, a taller chimney so radioactive materials would blow further away. Perhaps La Hague has taller chimneys.

While certainly not the only ones to dump radiation into the sea, Russia has been a major dumper, much in the Arctic: “The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radiactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.” http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/radioactive-waste-and-spent-nuclear-fuel/2012-08-russia-announces-enormous-finds-of-radioactive-waste-and-nuclear-reactors-in-arctic-seas

The halogens or halogen elements (/ˈhælɵdʒɨn/) are a group in the periodic table consisting of five chemically related elements: fluorine (F), chlorine (Cl), bromine (Br), iodine (I), and astatine (At)… The name ‘halogen’ means ‘salt-producing’. When halogens react with metals they produce a wide range of salts, including calcium fluoride, sodium chloride (common salt), silver bromide and potassium iodide. The group of halogens is the only periodic table group that contains elements in three of the four main states of matter at standard temperature and pressure. All of the halogens form acids when bonded to hydrogen. Most halogens are typically produced from minerals or salts. The middle halogens, that is chlorine, bromine and iodine, are often used as disinfectants. Organobromides are the most important class of flame retardants. Elemental halogens are generally toxic.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halogen

From the US EPA: “How do iodine-129 and iodine-131 get into the environment?

Iodine-129 and iodine-131 are gaseous fission products that form within fuel rods as they fission. Unless reactor chemistry is carefully controlled, they can build up too fast, increasing pressure and causing corrosion in the rods. As the rods age, cracks or wholes may breach the rods.

Cracked rods can release radioactive iodine into the water that surrounds and cools the fuel rods. There, it circulates with the cooling water throughout the system, ending up in the airborne, liquid, and solid wastes from the reactor. From time to time, reactor gas capture systems release gases, including iodine, to the environment under applicable regulations.

Anywhere spent nuclear fuel is handled, there is a chance that iodine-129 and iodine-131 will escape into the environment. Nuclear fuel reprocessing plants dissolve the spent fuel rods in strong acids to recover plutonium and other valuable materials. In the process, they also release iodine-129 and -131 into the airborne, liquid, and solid waste processing systems. In the U.S., spent nuclear fuel is no longer reprocessed, because of concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation.

Currently, spent nuclear fuel remains in temporary storage at nuclear power plants around the country. If the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain opens, it will provide permanent disposal for spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive wastes. Wherever spent nuclear fuel is stored, the short-lived iodine-131 it contains will decay away quickly and completely. However, the long-lived iodine-129 will remain for millions of years. Keeping it from leaking into the environment, requires carefully designed, long-term safeguards.

The detonation of nuclear weapons also releases iodine-129 into the environment. Atmospheric testing in the 1950’s and 60’s released radioactive iodine to the atmosphere which has disseminated around the world, and is now found at very low levels in the environment….

How do iodine-129 and iodine-131 change in the environment?

Radioactive iodine can disperse rapidly in air and water, under the right conditions. However, it combines easily with organic materials in soil. This is known as ‘organic fixation’ and slows iodine’s movement in the environment. Some soil minerals also attach to, or adsorb, iodine, which also slows its movement.

The long half-life of iodine-129, 15.7 million years, means that it remains in the environment. However, iodine-131’s short half-life of 8 days means that it will decay away completely in the environment in a matter of months. Both decay with the emission of a beta particle, accompanied by weak gamma radiation.

How do people come in contact with iodine-129 and iodine-131?

Radioactive iodine can be inhaled as a gas or ingested in food or water. It dissolves in water so it moves easily from the atmosphere into humans and other living organisms. People are exposed to I-129 from the past testing of nuclear weapons, and I-131 from nuclear power plant emissions. Some industrial facilities also emit radioactive iodine to the environment, as well as medical institutions. Radioactive iodine is usually emitted as a gas, but may contaminate liquids or solid materials as well. If a family member has been treated with I-131, you may have increased exposure to it through their body fluids.
http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/iodine.html

Iodine is a trace element that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Iodine is an essential component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid hormones regulate many important biochemical reactions, including protein synthesis and enzymatic activity, and are critical determinants of metabolic activity [1,2]. They are also required for proper skeletal and central nervous system development in fetuses and infants [1].

Thyroid function is primarily regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), also known as thyrotropin. It is secreted by the pituitary gland to control thyroid hormone production and secretion, thereby protecting the body from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism [1]. TSH secretion increases thyroidal uptake of iodine and stimulates the synthesis and release of T3 and T4. In the absence of sufficient iodine, TSH levels remain elevated, leading to goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland that reflects the body’s attempt to trap more iodine from the circulation and produce thyroid hormones.

Iodine may have other physiological functions in the body as well. For example, it appears to play a role in immune response and might have a beneficial effect on mammary dysplasia and fibrocystic breast disease[2].
[…]
Overall, it appears that the general U.S. population has adequate iodine intake but that some pregnant women may be at risk for iodine deficiency. Continued national iodine monitoring is needed with more emphasis on population subgroups that are most susceptible to iodine deficiency disorders.

Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency has multiple adverse effects on growth and development, and is the most common cause of preventable mental retardation in the world [30]. Iodine deficiency disorders result from inadequate thyroid hormone production secondary to insufficient iodine [5]. During pregnancy and early infancy, iodine deficiency can cause irreversible effects.

Under normal conditions, the body tightly controls thyroid hormone concentrations via TSH. Typically, TSH secretion increases when iodine intake falls below about 100 mcg/day [5]. TSH increases thyroidal iodine uptake from the blood and the production of thyroid hormone. However, very low iodine intakes can reduce thyroid hormone production even in the presence of elevated TSH levels.

If a person’s iodine intake falls below approximately 10–20 mcg/day, hypothyroidism occurs [1], a condition that is frequently accompanied by goiter. Goiter is usually the earliest clinical sign of iodine deficiency [2]. In pregnant women, iodine deficiency of this magnitude can cause major neurodevelopmental deficits and growth retardation in the fetus, as well as miscarriage and stillbirth [5]. Chronic, severe iodine deficiency in utero causes cretinism, a condition characterized by mental retardation, deaf mutism, motor spasticity, stunted growth, delayed sexual maturation, and other physical and neurological abnormalities [5].

In infants and children, less severe iodine deficiency can also cause neurodevelopmental deficits such as somewhat lower-than-average intelligence as measured by IQ [1,31]. Mild to moderate maternal iodine deficiency has also been associated with an increased risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children [32]. In adults, mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency can cause goiter as well as impaired mental function and work productivity secondary to hypothyroidism. Chronic iodine deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of the follicular form of thyroid cancer [33]. […] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/

Polar bears weakened by pollution as well as warmth” By Tim Radford. “Climate change causing habitat loss and reduced food is the main problem for polar bears, but plastic waste and other pollutants are growing risks. LONDON, 17 April, 2015 − Greenland’s polar bears have a thyroid problem. Their endocrine systems, too, are being disrupted. In both cases the culprit agency is environmental pollution by a range of long-lived industrial chemicals and pesticides.

Kristin Møller Gabrielsen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and colleagues report in the journal Environmental Research that they examined the liver, muscle and kidney tissues taken from seven polar bears killed by Inuit hunters in East Greenland in 2011 and analysed the effect of more than 50 contaminants in plasma samples from Ursus maritimus, to see what effect organohalogen compounds could have on the bears’ thyroid systems.
[…]
All mammals have thyroid systems, and these are physiologically essential for growth, development, reproduction, stress response, tissue repair, metabolism and thermoregulation (an animal’s ability to keep its body temperature within limits): disruption at any stage of life can be damaging, but thyroid regulation is vital in the earlier stages of life.

But the researchers found high concentrations of plastic pollution and pesticide contamination in the creatures’ tissues, many of which could affect the hormonal systems.

Retreating ice

Polar bears face an uncertain future: the Arctic’s most iconic predator depends on sea ice for access to the most nourishing prey – seals − but thanks to global warming driven by greenhouse gases discharged by humankind since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the ice is in retreat. The bears can and do forage on land for small prey, eggs, berries and so on, but new research suggests that this is unlikely to help them much.[…]” http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/polar-bears-weakened-by-pollution-as-well-as-warmth/ (Creative Commons. Emphasis added above, as well as throughout this blog post).

Environmental Research January 2015, Vol.136:413–423, doi:10.1016/j.envres.2014.09.019 “Thyroid hormones and deiodinase activity in plasma and tissues in relation to high levels of organohalogen contaminants in East Greenland polar bears (Ursus maritimus)” by Kristin Møller GabrielsenJulie Stene KrokstadGro Dehli VillangerDavid A.D. BlairMaria-Jesus ObregonChristian SonneRune DietzRobert J. LetcherBjørn Munro Jenssen

Polar Biology, August 2015, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1285-1296 “Thyroid hormones and deiodinase activities in plasma and tissues from East Greenland polar bears (Ursus maritimus) during winter season” Kristin Møller Gabrielsen , Julie Stene Krokstad, Maria-Jesus Obregon, Gro Dehli Villanger, Christian Sonne, Rune Dietz, Bjørn Munro Jenssen, says: “Thyroid hormones (THs) are essential for metabolism and thermoregulation in arctic animals.” (Gabrielsen et. al. 2015)

Ventilation of the deep Greenland and Norwegian seas: evidence from krypton-85, tritium, carbon-14 and argon-39. W.M. Smethie Jr.H.G. OstlundH.H. Loosli
Deep Sea Research Part A. Oceanographic Research Papers
May 1986, Vol.33(5):675–703
From the Abstract
… the distributions of 85Kr, tritium, 14C, 39Ar, temperature, salinity, oxygen, carbon dioxide and nutrients were measured in the Greenland and Norwegian seas. These observations support previous observations that Greenland Sea Deep Water is formed by a deep convective process within the Greenland gyre… Volume transports estimated from the distributions of 85Kr, tritium, 14C and 39Ar range from 0.53 to 0.74 Sv for exchange between the surface and deep Greenland Sea and from 0.9 to 1.47 Sv for exchange between the deep Greenland and deep Norwegian seas. The residence time of water in the deep Greenland Sea with respect to exchange with surface water ranges from 24 to 34 years compared to 26–31 years reported by Peterson and Rooth (1976, Deep-Sea Research, 23, 273–283) and 35–42 years reported by Bullister and Weisss (1983, Science, 221, 265–268). The residence time of water in the deep Norwegian Sea with respect to exchange with the deep Greenland Sea ranges from 19 to 30 years compared to 97–107 years reported by Peterson and Rooth (1976) and 10–28 years reported by Bullister and Weiss (1983)…” (Abstract ends)
The sverdrup, named in honour of the pioneering oceanographer Harald Sverdrup, is a unit of measure of volume transport. It is used almost exclusively in oceanography, to measure the volumetric rate of transport of ocean currents. Its symbol is Sv. Note that the sverdrup is not an SI unit, and that its symbol conflicts with the sievert’s symbol.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sverdrup

krypton-85, a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 10.76 years which is produced by fission reactions,… Smethie and Mathieu (1986) developed a laboratory facility for measuring this isotope in the oceans and obtained a large number of samples… Early results from these measurements have been used by Smethie et al. (1986) along with tritium, carbon-14, and argon-39, to study the ventilation of the Greenland and Norwegian Seas. They estimate residence times of 24-34 years for deep Greenland Sea…; and 19-30 years for the deep Norwegian Sea with respect to the deep Greenland Sea,… Further work of interest in the area has been that of Livingston et al. (1985) which showed that in the period from 1972 to 1981 there was an increase of tritium due to atmospheric hydrological recycling and of cesium-137 from European reprocessing plants. These new additions take of the order of two years after entry into the surface waters of the Greenland and Iceland Seas to appear in the Denmark Strait Overflow.

Radioisotopes from the Windscale plant on the Irish Sea have also been observed in the Arctic Ocean at depths of 1500 m (Livington et al., 1984), indicating a transit time of 8 to 10 years.” From: “REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS, VOL. 25, NO. 6, PAGES 1417-1419, JULY 1987 U.S. NATIONAL REPORT TO INTERNATIONAL UNION OF GEODESY AND GEOPHYSICS 1983-1986 TRACERS AND MODELING” by J.L. Sarmiento, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program, Princeton Univ. http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/jls0701.pdf

A CANADIAN FARMERS’ ALMANAC ANNOUNCED THIS ALMOST 20 YEARS AGO! THEY MUST MEAN MORE EXTREME LIKE CANADA. Europe has had record heat. Doesn’t the Gulf Stream both warm and cool?
Global warming threatens colder climate for Europe” By Tim Radford New evidence that increased melting of sea ice as the Earth warms could weaken the Gulf Stream and reduce temperatures in western Europe.http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/global-warming-threatens-colder-climate-for-europe/