Wherever humans go, we usually leave a trail of pollution behind, and it seems this applies even to the road untraveled, like unexplored parts of the ocean's deepest trenches. Crustaceans living 10 kilometers (6 miles) below sea level have been found to carry high levels of harmful industrial chemicals.
Although there have been missions to the deepest parts of the oceans, most of the Mariana and Kermadec trenches have never been visited by humans, or even machines. Yet when Dr Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen collected amphipod crustaceans from 7,227-10,250 meters (4.5-6.4 miles) deep using traps set by deep-sea landers, the results were frightening.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were detectable in every sample, across three species. Both PCBs and PBDEs are examples of persistent organic pollutants, chemicals produced by humans that disrupt the functioning of hormones in animals, and build up in the bodies of predators as they eat prey with lower concentrations, a process known as bioaccumulation.
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