Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sad Tasmanian Devil News

The Tasmanian Devil is my favorite carnivorous marsupial. It only lives in Tasmania, making it one of those almost mythical beasts that you read about, rather than encounter. (Yes, it's a character in Bugs Bunny cartoons as well.) I read today that the stumpy-legged, barky creatures are rapidly being wiped out by mysterious facial tumors that keep them from eating. They starve to death and what makes it impossible to treat is that the cancers appear to be transmitted from devil to devil through bites. But the disease is not viral in nature--it's a mystery. Now scientists are reporting that the devils have very high concentrations of carcinogenic flame retardent chemicals in their fatty tissues. These are the same chemcials (PBDEs) that are causing a world-wide freak-out because they reside in us as well and they're in practically everything we deal with throughout the day: furniture, rugs, computers, walls, etc. If creatures who only live in Tasmania are saturated with this stuff, what does that mean for our health and the health of our children? In other words, what price flame retardation?

photo source: Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park
More information: Where Light Meets Dark

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