In a study, recently published in the journal Environmental Pollution, Eric Montie, a University of South Florida scientist who did most of his research while a doctoral student at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, found high levels of man-made chemicals in the brains and fluid surrounding the brains of marine mammals.
Working with the Cape Cod Stranding Network, Montie went to marine mammal strandings in 2004 and 2005 and retrieved the freshly dead or euthanized carcasses of 10 dolphins and a young gray seal. He used a magnetic resonance imaging machine to capture a detailed picture of their brains, to establish a baseline for future research on how chemicals could be affecting their neurological development.
Montie tested for the presence of 170 chemicals in brain and cerebrospinal fluid he'd collected from the stranded animals. He found exceptionally high levels of both the widely used flame retardant PBDE and a form of PCB.