An 85-year-old vial of oil from a whaling ship has revealed that a mysterious group of organic chemicals resembling human-made compounds are naturally produced in the sea.
A decade ago, scientists monitoring marine mammals' flesh for pollutants began finding unknown organic compounds containing the halogen atoms bromine and chlorine. More than 20 such compounds were eventually revealed. That raised alarms because the compounds, as complex halogenated chemicals, structurally resemble the pesticide DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were once used in flame retardants.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.