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U.N. links climate to chemical exposure

CANCUN, Mexico, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Climate change increases the exposure of persistent organic pollutants, which have long-term health effects on humans, a U.N. study released in Mexico said.

A U.N. research team unveiled the first comprehensive review of the link between climate change and exposure to persistent organic pollutants.

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POPs are substances that linger in the environment for several generations and have potentially toxic effects on the human population. Exposure increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders and cancer, the U.N. Environment Program said.

Global climate change, the study found, increases the level of POPs through the food chain while extreme weather events, such as monsoon rains and flooding, trigger secondary POPs emissions. Scientists attribute an increased number of extreme weather events to climate change.

Katarina Magulova, a program officer with the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, said warming trends meant harmful chemicals like POPs had a greater potential to accumulate in the biosphere.

"Climate change increases the planet's vulnerability to persistent organic pollutants, by increasing emissions and the bio-availability of POPs and thus the potential for bio-magnification through the food chain, one of the chief pathways of human exposure to POPs," she warned.

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