Toxic Toilet Paper and Long-lasting Chemicals Found in Endangered Killer Whales
Published:28 Jan.2023    Source:ScienceDaily
A chemical used in the production of toilet paper and 'forever chemicals' have been found in the bodies of orcas in B.C. , including the endangered southern resident killer whales. The Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries at UBC, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists analyzed tissue samples from six southern resident killer whales and six Bigg's whales stranded along the coast of B.C. from 2006 to 2018, according to a recent study. They discovered that chemical pollutants are prevalent in killer whales, with a chemical often found in toilet paper one of the most prevalent in the samples studied, accounting for 46 per cent of the total pollutants identified.
 
Called 4-nonylphenol or 4NP, the compound is listed as a toxic substance in Canada and can interact with the nervous system and influence cognitive function, the authors say. This research is a wake-up call. Southern residents are an endangered population and it could be that contaminants are contributing to their population decline. We can't wait to protect this species.
 

4NP is often used in pulp and paper processing, as well as in soap, detergents and textile processing. It can leak into the ocean via sewage treatment plants and industrial runoffs, where it is ingested by smaller organisms and moves up the food chain to reach top predators such as killer whales. It's known as a 'contaminant of emerging concern' or CEC, which are pollutants found in the environment that are not well-studied and so, regulated.  

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