Chlorine is the source of wildlife problems. Since 1930
organochlorines have made pesticides, solvents, propellants, coolants, fast food packaging, insulating foam, plastics (PVC), plastics for clothing, building materials, containers, additives (PCB), heat resistance for neon lights, and many other products.
One third of these byproducts enter the sea.
Some of the fluorocarbons go into the sky and are broken by the sun’s radiation. The unattached chlorine reacts with the ozone forming chlorine oxide and leaves regular O2 behind.
Ozone is a vital filter of the sunlight. It prevents ultraviolet rays from damaging all living things. The ultraviolet rays destroy at the genetic level resulting in mutations in algae and microbes.
The initial thought was that it is chemically inert. It does not react with other chemicals. The danger is that it has a love affinity for human body fats.
There is a build up through the food chains to planktons in the sea to fish and finally to mammals.
PCB harmfully effects the hormone systems, results in decreased immunity, arrest of sexual development, is implicated in various cancers, and results in damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system.
It interferes with genetic function. Dioxins are strong human carcinogens, especially brain cancers. Eating fish from waters with high levels of PCB also have been implicated in causing anemia, edema, and infectious diseases.
THE ROLE OF ALGAE in disease is interesting. In 1988 it was found that in the North Sea 60% of the harbor seals died. The cause was a morbillivirus (the virus that causes measles).
The seals all had high levels of PCB, organochlorines and impaired immune systems. The question arose as to where this virus came from.It was found that there was an abundant amount of red algae in the sea.
Algae are a well-nourished consumer of oxygen in the water, leaving little for other living things. It also produces toxins and was found to harbor exotic viruses (1970 Colwell).
In 1970 an outbreak of Cholera was found in Asia. That same year an outbreak occurred in Lima Peru. A Chinese freighter carrying cholera emptied its holding water into the sea in Lima. This algae rich water spread the epidemic throughout Lima. (When water is warmed and nitrogen is added, bacteria flourish.)
Human and animal wastes feed algae with nutrients contributing to interbreeding and multiplication of viruses. The sewage of two billion people flows untreated into the sea.
These factors result in new mutations of viruses from the ever-blooming algae. Our food supply contaminated by PCB results in weakening of the human immune system.
The effect of the BP massive oil spill disaster is yet to be determined.