What is Bioaccumulation?
Bioaccumulation in living things is the build-up of pollutants in a food food web. The bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in the Lake Superior food web is shown to the right. It shows that the POPs (Persistant Organic Polutants) accumulate in greater quantities as you get farther up the food web. For example, Lake trout have a higher POPs concentration than zooplankton.
Airborne POPs such as dioxins can build up in living things, via food webs, when they end up in the air, because they can settle on plant tissue and 'fall' into bodies of water with precipitation. Backyard burning of plastics is a large contributer of airborne dioxins, because the burning takes place at too low of a temperature to completely break down the chemicals.
POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) are organic chemicals that are in the atmosphere and don't biodegrade well. Because they don't biodegrade easily, they stay in the atmosphere and in other living organisms for a very long time. They usually settle suspended in the atmosphere, but they can also be carried very long distances before they settle out or build up in soil or water before they eventually enter the food chain.