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Environ Sci Technol. 2004 Apr 15;38(8):2312-6.

Global pollution monitoring of polybrominated diphenyl ethers using skipjack tuna as a bioindicator.

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  • 1Center for Marine Environmental Studies (CMES), Ehime University, Bunkyo-cho 2-5, Matsuyama 790-8566, Japan.


To elucidate the global distribution of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), these chemicals were determined in the muscle of skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) collected from offshore waters of various regions in the world (Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Seychelles, and Brazil, and the Japan Sea, East China Sea, South China Sea, Indian Ocean, and North Pacific Ocean). PBDEs were detected in almost all the skipjack tuna collected from the locations surveyed (from < 0.1 to 53 ng/g of lipid), indicating widespread contamination by these compounds in the marine environment. Residue levels of PBDEs in these samples from the northern hemisphere seem to be higher than those from the southern hemisphere, which is plausibly due to larger usage of these compounds in the northern hemisphere. Higher concentrations of PBDEs were detected in the samples from waters around the East China Sea (up to 53 ng/g of lipid). Developing countries around the East China Sea are supposedly the "hot spots" releasing these chemicals into the marine environment. With regard to the composition of PBDE congeners, the percentage contribution by lower brominated congeners (BDE15, -28, and -47) showed an increasing trend with increasing latitude. On the other hand, higher brominated congeners (BDE153, -154, and -183) showed a reverse trend. These patterns suggest that lower brominated congeners of PBDEs (di-, tri-, and tetra-BDEs) were preferentially transported from pollution sources to northern colder regions through the atmosphere. PBDEs may have a high potency to cause global pollution like PCBs.

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