Published: Wednesday 15 July 1998

polar bear cubs have been found with severe deformities in the Norwegian Arctic territory. Pollution levels are known to be high in this region. Researchers have found some of the bears with both male and female sex organs. Such deformities may be due to exposure of polychlorinated biphenyl chemicals ( pcb s), they say.

These chemicals are gradually building up in seals, on which the polar bears feed. Scientists believe that pcb s are among the thousands of substances, which mimic animal and human sex hormones.

Scientists have already discovered fish in the uk and alligators in the us with sex changes. However, the polar bears are believed to be the first to show such acute changes.

The Norwegian government's special advisor on polar affairs, Dagfinn Stenseth says that the polar bear research adds to the worldwide attempts to unravel possible links between such chemicals and sexual deformities, and diseases in human beings as well as animals. It can be well established with the fact that in the last 50 years, sperm counts have fallen in people living in industrialised countries.

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