Fireproof? Michigan’s bald eagles full of flame retardants

Bald Eagle by Kevin Povenz

Bald Eagle, photo by Kevin Povenz

Sorry. I like to start the weekend on a better note usually, I hope you have a good one.

Environmental Health News recently ran a story bluntly titled Michigan’s bald eagles full of flame retardants. It says (in part):

Michigan’s bald eagles are among the most contaminated birds on the planet when it comes to phased-out flame retardant chemicals in their livers, according to new research.

The study, published last month in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, found that the top predators in the Great Lakes are highly exposed to banned flame retardants, still widespread in the environment.

Michigan’s population of bald eagles is stable, but the compounds have been linked in other birds to impaired reproduction, weird behavior and development, and hormone disruption.

“While the sensitivity of eagles to PBDEs has yet to be determined, there is a possibility that the exposures reported here may be associated with sub-clinical effects,” Nil Basu, an associate professor at McGill University who led study while at the University of Michigan, said in an email.

More than four decades ago, companies started putting polybrominated diphenyl ethers, PBDEs, into furniture cushions, electronics and clothing in an effort to slow the spread of flames if they catch fire.

…The chemicals “are everywhere,” Basu said. “They build up in the food chains so that top predators – such as bald eagles – accumulate high levels.”

Flame retardants have been found in birds all over the world – from the United States to China.

Read on for lots more about a sad story for these amazing animals. Oh, and don’t forget. Humans are a “top predator” too!

About this photo from last November, Kevin wrote:

Went down by the Grand River to see if any eagles were around. Now the conditions were not the greatest, quite windy, grey overcast skies and light mist in the air. But I haven’t been out all day so I said to myself that I just got to do this. Well I got to see the Eagles and this one just looked at me with the expression like “why are you here on such a crappy day”

Kevin is far and away the master bald eagle photographer in the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr – heck, I just featured one of his eagle photos a couple of weeks ago. View his photo bigger and see many more of his really great Michigan bald eagle photos on Flickr.

Lots more about bald eagles on Michigan in Pictures.

4 thoughts on “Fireproof? Michigan’s bald eagles full of flame retardants

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