Flame retardants threaten house sparrows

House sparrow populations are dropping all over Europe just as in Norway. One of the reasons may be that that they absorb environmental pollutants, even though the birds live far from people and industry.

Biologists Bjørn Munro Jenssen and Thomasz Ciesielski from NTNU have found large concentrations of a specific type of bromated flame retardant in the livers of house sparrows along Norway’s Helgeland coast. The chemical is called deca-BDE and is used in textiles, electronics and cars. It can damage genetic material, and affect reproduction in birds and animals.