Mongooses near U.S. bases have high PCB levels


Japanese researchers have detected high levels of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls in mongooses found near two U.S. military bases in Okinawa in a recent study.

The team of researchers from Ehime University and Okinawa’s Meio University told Kyodo News the source of the pollution was probably transformers or other equipment containing PCBs, and said further studies are necessary, given that nearby residents and other animals could be contaminated as well.

The discovery points to the need for a thorough investigation into how equipment containing PCBs has been and is currently used. U.S. bases in Okinawa are said to have a lot of equipment that still contains PCBs.

The team studied seven mongooses that were either killed on roads or captured for studies on their habitats near U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and the Makiminato Service Area (Camp Kinser), both on Okinawa Island, in August and September 2008. Their carcasses were preserved for further study.

The researchers found up to 890 nanograms of mono-ortho PCBs, a specific type of PCB with a high toxicity similar to dioxin, per gram of liver fat, and an average of 310 nanograms, both higher than levels reported in mongooses in other parts of Okinawa or in cats, wild boars and raccoons elsewhere in Japan.

Mongooses were chosen for the study because they have a relatively narrow range of movement and are thought to be more likely to reflect local pollution levels, and also because they live close to residential areas in Okinawa.

  • Yoshio Shimoji

    PCB found in mongooses this time and possible dumping of large amounts of Agent Orange reported in February. Are the residents living in the vicinity of Futenma Air Station OK? Or are paddy “satoimo” potato fields on the coastal area just west of it OK, the groundwater of which flows in from Futenma Air Station’s underground water sources?

    By dint of a bilaeteral agreement unjustifiably favorable to the U.S.. the U.S. side has no obligation to clean up the dumped toxins and soil contamination. A nice arrangement for the U.S. military but that is only possible between a suzerain and a colony or a vassal. What a proud sovereign state Japan is, Mr. Prime Minister!

  • Saidani

    Where is the information about any correlation between residual chemicals found in a mongoose population and nearby human population? To be sure, comparisons have been conducted somewhere around the globe before now. Without stating that there is no correlation (if the government could even be trusted to provide truthful information – re: Fukushima. Also, the Agent Orange issue on Okinawa remains unresolved for both the locals and former US service members stationed there), local residents must assume that they are likewise exposed. Add this to the list of problems America has created for Okinawa.