Friday Squid Blogging: Contaminated Squids

We’re contaminating the squid:

The toxic chemicals that Vecchione and colleagues from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found are a rogues gallery of scary initials: PCBs, TBTs, BDEs, and DDT among them. Scientists classify all of them as POPs, or persistent

Posted on June 20, 2008 at 4:56 PM12 Comments


David W June 20, 2008 6:08 PM

Hi Bruce,

Perhaps I haven’t been reading your blog for long enough (only about 2 years), but every Friday I find myself wondering: what started this whole squid thing in the first place?

Perhaps a small addend on your next squid post would clear the matter up for all of us. 🙂


Davi Ottenheimer June 20, 2008 7:23 PM

“Most people think the deep sea is so far away that humans don’t affect it…”

Waste. We are so bad at seeing the long-term I doubt most people would think about the impact on the deep sea even if it were on their back yard.

This reminds me of news about housing developments in ex-farmland that sit on decades of unregulated toxic pesticides. They are just starting to see high rates of illness and defects, and no one knows who can/will pay for the cleanup.

I can hear Sting singing “You want to spend the winter in Firenze, Squid in a deep sea…”

Or would it be

“Packed like squids into shiny metal boxes…”

Couldn’t resist. If you wonder where this all comes from recent American presidents have done little to stop big companies from dump and forget.


  • EPA to make toxics reporting standards more lenient for industry (09/16/05)
  • EPA head defends pesticide testing on children (06/02/05)
  • EPA lets industry write its own voluntary rules for water security (12/09/04)
  • EPA fails to enforce adequate testing for lead in drinking water (10/05/04)
  • White House contaminates pollution study (01/10/05)
  • Bush administration refuses to crack down on diesel pollution (06/07/02)
    White House seeks to relax environmental rules affecting manufacturers (03/09/05)
  • Bush administration air pollution plan would exempt 58,000 industrial sources (03/01/05)
  • More pollution at national parks promised by Bush drilling juggernaut (01/28/05)
  • EPA weakens mercury reduction requirements for power plants (03/15/05)
  • Congressional watchdog agency concludes EPA distorted mercury analysis (03/07/05)

Not a big surprise. This is what happens when lobbyists for the mining, oil and gas industries are appointed to lead departments intended to protect the environment from harm.

This past Feb saw yet another sad chapter:

“Whatever one’s opinion of the need for greater controls on mercury emissions or the use of cap-and-trade for this sort of pollutant, the D.C. Circuit’s opinion makes abundantly clear that the Bush EPA’s effort was illegal. Indeed, after reading the opinion it is not at all clear to me that the EPA even tried to comply with the Clean Air Act’s requirements in writing their rules.”

This is not some far away issue. The regulation of toxins is a real security threat and civilians are impacted all the time as I mentioned here:

Expect the price of clean water to rise dramatically as destroying it remains unregulated while securing it becomes more expensive, discussed here:

Time to squid off…

Peter E Retep June 20, 2008 7:27 PM

Maybe this will finally get people to stop eating squid eaters –
especially the manufacturers of the POP’s?

Ojai Guy June 20, 2008 7:52 PM

Maybe this will finally get people to
stop eating squid eaters

Peter, that sounds well and good, but something else will eat the squid eaters, and our grocery stores will stock contaminated fish.

A homeowner poisons an attic rat. The rat lurches into the street. A cat eats the rat. A coyote eats the cat. A mountain lion eats the coyote. Then a condor eats the lion, and dies of rat poisoning.

That’s why it’s called the food web.

Milan June 20, 2008 9:44 PM

More posts about the relationship between security and the environment would be appreciated. Climate change certainly has a great many associated security issues.

Clive Robinson June 20, 2008 10:35 PM

How do you define the word “security” in a way that all people understand.

In many languages “security” and “safety” are but one word.

In Europe many languages are spoken, but interestingly those that do not speak English as a first language are considerably more environmentaly concious.

Perhaps we in the English speaking world should stop thinking about them seperatly, but collectivly and move our world view with it.

@ Bruce,

A thought for you,

How does the language we speak effect our thoughts and therfore our actions?

An essay of ten thousand words or less 😉

Seriously though it is very relevent to the “soft security” issues you are starting to investigate [Why “soft security” well have a look at “soft systems” analysis and methodology and see if the aproach Checkland tried their might benifit security].

Clive Robinson June 21, 2008 1:40 AM

@ DavidW,

Another thing to consider,

Although cats have the reputation for bing cute and cuddely and squid being vicious killers, the oposit is actually true. But squid unlike cats are likley to be found on a restauant menu, and Bruce does spend a fair amount of time reviewing restaurant menus 8)

I think you will find he has even posted one or two squid recipies in the past…

Does this make him like Charles Darwin who was also famed for eating just about anything that could walk swim, crawl or fly (apparently he was not impressed with either puma or brown owl but did like candid maggot…)

Framecrash June 21, 2008 5:46 AM

We’re gradually learning that you can never throw it away. Detection levels are getting so good (that is to say, low) that scientists would be surprised if nothing showed up. Pick your sample (air, water, or …um, squid) – good luck trying to find nothing.

The article points out that mere detection of low-level compounds doesn’t necessarily imply health consequences, but the homeopaths among us will remain unconvinced.

Yeah, we’re all pissing in the pool:

Bryan Feir June 23, 2008 10:42 AM

@Clive Robinson:

Please see the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. The idea that language influences thought dates back at least as far as Kant, though it was more formally codified by Benjamin Whorf back in the 1930’s. Orwell was probably familiar with Sapir and Whorf’s work when he created newspeak…

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