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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Sep 15;40(18):5668-74.

Xenoendocrine pollutants may reduce size of sexual organs in East Greenland polar bears (Ursus maritimus).

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  • 1Department of Arctic Environment, National Environmental Research Institute, Frederiksborgvej 399, P.O. Box 358, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark.


Reproductive organs from 55 male and 44 female East Greenland polar bears were examined to investigate the potential negative impact from organohalogen pollutants (OHCs). Multiple regressions normalizing for age showed a significant inverse relationship between OHCs and testis length and baculum length and weight, respectively, and was found in both subadults (dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethanes, dieldrin, chlordanes, hexacyclohexanes, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)) and adults (hexachlorobenzene [HCB]) (all p < 0.05). Baculum bone mineral densities decreased with increasing chlordanes, DDTs, and HCB in subadults and adults, respectively (all p < 0.05). In females, a significant inverse relationship was found between ovary length and sigma PCB (p = 0.03) and sigma CHL (p < 0.01), respectively, and between ovary weight and sigma PBDE (p < 0.01) and uterine horn length and HCB (p = 0.02). The study suggests thatthere is an impact from xenoendocrine pollutants on the size of East Greenland polar bear genitalia. This may pose a riskto this polar bear subpopulation in the future because of reduced sperm and egg quality/quantity and uterus and penis size/robustness.

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