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Chemosphere. 2001 Jul;44(2):147-54.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PaHs) in subcutaneous biopsies of Mediterranean cetaceans.

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  • 1Dip Scienze Ambientali, Universit√† di Siena, Italy.


The aim of the present study was to measure polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) levels in free-ranging Mediterranean cetaceans as they are likely to cause chemical stress in the organisms of this basin. Blubber samples were collected from live specimens of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) by means of biopsies, a non-destructive biological method. Fin whales were sampled in the Ligurian Sea, whereas striped dolphins were collected in the Ligurian and the Ionian Seas. A fingerprint of 14 PAHs was obtained for both species. In whales, the median value of total PAHs was 1970 ppb fresh weight (f.w.) while median carcinogenic PAH values were 89.80 ppb f.w.; in dolphins, the median values of total and carcinogenic PAHs were 29,500 and 676.00 ppb f.w., respectively. The different PAH values between the two species can be attributed to the different positions they take in the Mediterranean food web. The sampling period significantly influenced PAH concentrations of fin whales.

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