Ski wax is EATING by animals in winter resorts and infiltrates into the food chain at potentially toxic rates, scientists warn
- Ski wax contains long-lived toxic chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances
- Experts in Norway have measured these chemicals in soil and animals on a ski resort
- The substances were found in worms and bank mice at unusually high levels
- Although below toxic levels, experts warn that they can build up more in large predators
Ski wax is eaten by animals in winter resorts and builds up in the food chain to potentially toxic rates, a study has found.
Biologists who were concerned about the presence of harmful chemicals in the environment, took soil and animal samples from a popular Norwegian ski area.
They discovered that perfluoroalkyl substances – or "PFAS & # 39; s" – accumulated in the soil, earthworms, and small rodents called bank mice.
PFAS & # 39; s are used in a range of consumer products – including the waxes that winter sports enthusiasts put on their skis to help them glide better on the snow.
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Harmful chemicals in ski wax are eaten by animals in winter resorts and grow up in the food chain to potentially toxic amounts, a study has shown
WHAT IS A PFAS?
Perfluoroalkyl substances – or & # 39; PFAS & # 39; s & # 39; – are a family of synthetic chemicals that contain multiple flour atoms.
They are used to make glide wax for skiers which helps to reduce the friction between skis and snow.
They are also known to be used in certain types of fire-fighting foams.
Sometimes also & # 39; forever chemicals & # 39; mentioned, they can stay in the environment for a long time.
Experts from Norway have shown that PFAS & # 39; s can build up in ski resorts in ski resorts, possibly up to toxic levels.
& # 39; The detected concentrations are far below the toxicity thresholds established in laboratory studies & # 39 ;, said the author and biologist Randi Grønnestad of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
This added that & # 39; individual PFAS & # 39; s in ski products may not pose a significant environmental risk & # 39 ;.
& # 39; However, it must be borne in mind that the reported concentrations in organisms have been measured from the basis of the food web.
& # 39; PFAS & # 39; s are persistent – and biomagnify in food webs – so the levels can be much higher at a higher trophic level, such as top predators. & # 39;
Concerned about their toxicity, authorities in the US and other countries have banned the use of the two most troubling forms of the substance: perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctan sulfonate.
Nevertheless, scientists remain anxious because of the stability of PFAS compounds, which can remain in the environment for many years before breaking down.
The researchers collected soil and animal samples from the Granåsen Ski Center in Trondheim, Norway – a location popular with cross-country skiers, ski jumpers and biathletes.
They then compared these samples with those collected at a wooded reference site, about nine miles away, which is not used for skiing.
PFAS & # 39; s are used in a range of consumer products – including the waxes that winter sports enthusiasts put on their skis to help them glide better on the snow
Soil analysis showed that three separate PFAS & # 39; s were present at significantly higher levels around the ski area compared to the reference site.
Earthworms in the ski area also had unnatural levels of two PFAS connections compared to their counterparts in the skier free area.
In addition, Granåsen's bank mice had nearly six times higher total PFAS levels in their liver – along with noticeably higher levels of different long-chain PFAS & # 39; s found in ski washes – than those living at the reference location.
Mrs Grønnestad not only warned of the potential for higher toxicity in the food chain, but also stressed the risk that a dangerous mix of chemicals might end up in the environment.
& # 39; They are exposed to a mixture of PFAS & # 39; s, rather than individual contaminants, so the toxicity problem of mixtures should also be addressed in any risk assessment program for contaminants from ski resorts, & # 39; she added.
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Environmental sciences and technology.
The team collected soil and animal samples from the Granåsen Ski Center in Trondheim, Norway – a location popular with cross-country skiers, ski jumpers and biathletes
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