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PCBs in the environment

Finding Genetic Keys

Biologists Mark Hahn and Diana Franks were recently funded by the Superfund Research Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for five years to research  the impact of chemical contaminants in fish living in New Bedford Harbor, not far from their lab at WHOI. The researchers and their collaborators have found that Atlantic killifish have developed genetic resistance to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, long-lasting chemicals that are now banned, but that linger in the environment. The fish can tolerate the pollution, and in fact seem to be thriving. But they are a major source of food for bass and other fish eaten by humans, so the PCBs' impacts could be felt up the food chain. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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