Climate Change

Harmful chemicals are melting out from Himalayas

These pollutants are flowing down to Himalayan lakes, potentially threatening aquatic life and humans dependent on these water bodies

 
Last Updated: Saturday 03 August 2019

Climate change is causing harmful pollutants trapped in the Himalayan glaciers to melt out

and into the environment, according to a new study published in AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research.

Since 1940, harmful chemicals used in pesticides have been slowly accumulating in these glaciers. These pollutants are flowing down to Himalayan lakes, potentially threatening aquatic life and humans dependent on these water bodies.

Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are one of the major pollutants that get stored in the glaciers. Himalayan glaciers may have higher levels of PFAAs than any other glaciers in the world. This is because of their proximity to south Asian countries that are some of the most polluted regions of the world.

The glaciers are releasing around 1.81 kilogrammes of PFAAs into Lake Nam a year and this can lead to bioaccumulation of PFAAs in fish, whose consumption can prove fatal for humans. PFAAs have a long life.

They don’t biodegrade and are passed through several organisms and ecosystems. Similar studies conducted at the poles and in Europe revealed that each mountain range has its own characteristic that influences how chemicals move through the environment.

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