This is the largest analysis ever done on the level of impregnation of marine mammals by PCBs
PCBs were once used in electrical gear, paints and flame retardants, but were banned from the 1970s because of their toxic effect in humans and animals.
However the manmade chemicals have persisted in the environment, and are accumulating in top predators.
The study finds Europe’s cetaceans have levels of PCBs that are among the highest found in on the oceans.
PCBs persist at dangerously high levels in European cetaceans
Lead author Dr Paul Jepson, a wildlife veterinarian from the Zoological Society of London, said: “For striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and killer whales, we have mean PCB levels that are excessive – they are really high – probably the highest in the world right now, by some way.
The contamination is so high that some populations of killer whales are facing extinction, he added.