Science & Policy Blog: Animals and Pets

Killer whales and the scientists working to save them

There is no documented case of a wild orca killing a human. It’s time we returned the favor by protecting the health, habitat, and viability of this highly intelligent, vocal, social and powerful species. Orca face many threats including degradation of their hunting habitats, overfishing of their food, disturbance from sea vessels, warming oceans, and chemical pollution. They are exposed to toxic chemicals, some of which have been banned for decades and some in current use. Dr. Peter Ross is…

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Flame retardants transferred at high levels to baby whales

“Baby beluga in the deep blue sea” is born with high levels of flame retardants A new study from University of Victoria found that arctic beluga whales transferred about 11% of their polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) blubber burden to their near-term fetuses. The implications of this exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds during a critical developmental stage in the unborn whales are unclear. Full reference: Desforges, J.-P. W., Ross, P. S., & Loseto, L. L. (2012). Transplacental transfer…

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New research finds association between cat hyperthyroid disease and flame retardant levels in dust

An informative new study of 72 cats by Mensching, et al. confirmed that domestic cats have high concentrations of PBDE flame retardants in their blood. The study compared the blood levels of flame retardants in healthy and hyperthyroid geriatric cats and found no significant difference. However, PBDE levels in household dust were significantly higher in homes with hyperthyroid cats. Analysis of several commercially available canned cat foods suggested that food is not a major source of PBDEs. Ingestion of dust from grooming,…

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