I have been asked several times since returning from our eXXpedition voyage "what kind of Science were you actually doing?"...
The truth is, that the entire notion of "doing science" became something of a laughing mantra on board. As, from noon until dusk most days we seemed to be "doing science" or so it felt. Aside from deploying the manta trawl each day to physically trawl for micro plastics, we each had different roles in what amounted to eleven different research projects
. The second truth is, that the reality of what we were exploring is not very nice, or easy to talk about. These are problems that there are currently no answers to. Which leads me nicely to the lovley title of this post "persitent organic pollutants-part II"
If you have not at this point read my original persistent organic pollutants post. I would urge you to do so. In short, we had blood taken from our squirming white arms back in June last year, which was popped in a centrifuge and sent ( as far as I can tell) to the laboratory of Dr Anna Karmen at the Obero University in Sweden. Where they are analysed for 32 different persistant organic pollutants.
In laymans terms, persistent organic pollutants are endocrine disrupting chemicals, which bio accumulate in our bodies over time due to exposure, and they don't go away. What, I hear you ask, is an "endocrine disrupting chemical"? An endocrine disruptor is a "compound that interferes with or changes normal endocrine (hormone) function. In other words, changing the way our regular hormone system behaves. The frightening thing about these chemicals is that not only do they bio-accumulate in our bodies. But the only way for a woman to rid herself of these toxics is through passing them on to her off spring both during child-birth and whilst breast feeding.