Baltic Sea aquatic life threatened by World War II-era chemical weapons

New research indicates that toxins from chemical weapons dumped into the Baltic Sea after World War II may be affecting marine life.

Finnish researchers said that toxins leaking from World War II-era chemical munitions may be poisoning nearby mussels and codfish. Testing is currently underway to determine the extent of the damage and whether the toxins found in marine life are chemical warfare agents or some other pollutant, according to

"Mussels which have been lying close to the dumping sites of chemical munitions are in a worse condition than those found elsewhere," Anu Lastumäki, a planner at the Finnish Environment Institute, said, reports. "The mussels are stressed, in other words they have been in the water containing toxins or pollutants. So far it has not been possible to identify the toxins in question."

Scientists say there is a potentially huge poison bomb lying at the bottom of the Baltic Sea as a result of the tens of thousands of tons of hazardous substances dumped there at the end of the war. Corrosive gasses, arsenic compounds and nerve agent munitions were all sent to the bottom of the sea.

"The dumped munitions included, for example, bombs to be dropped from aircraft, naval mines, and barrels containing chemicals," Director of the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention Paula Vanninen said, reports. "It can be estimated that some of them are leaking at this very moment, while some others will begin to leak in due course."

Some of the chemicals will ultimately decompose in the water or inside the aquatic life, but some can accumulate in the fatty tissue of fish that may ultimately be eaten by humans.