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What is transboundary pollution?

Updated: 4/28/2022
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What Is Transboundary Pollution?

Transboundary pollution is the pollution that originates in one country but is able to cause damage in Another Country's environment, by crossing borders through pathways like water or air. Pollution can be transported across hundreds and even thousands of kilometers. The incredible distances that pollution can spread means that it is not contained within the boundaries of any single nation. This is why it is called 'Transboundary Pollution'. One of the problems with transboundary pollution is that can carry pollution away from a heavy emitter and deposit it onto a nation whose emissions are relatively low. Another problem with transboundary pollution relates to the quote above. Due to the fact that 'All things connect', the heavy pollution that is evident in the developed world also becomes evident in remote areas. For an example of how transboundary pollution becomes visible in a remote area like the Arctic, see the Arctic Haze fact sheet.

The droppings (guano) of Arctic Seabirds are another way that human made pollutants from the south arrive and concentrate in the Arctic. The levels of pollutants like Mercury and DDT have been found to be as much as 60 times greater than those found at sites not influenced by seabirds. Since the guano is also an important source of fertilizer for the Arctic, many other forms of Arctic life centre around these areas in which contaminants become concentrated. This leads to the pollutants making their way into all levels of the Arctic food web. The seabirds acquire pollutants through contact with polluted ocean waters and food sources. These waters and food sources became themselves polluted through some of the mechanisms of transport mentioned above. In other words, the birds act as a taxi service for ocean borne pollutants to travel inland.

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