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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 May 15;39(10):3430-4.

Occurrence of synthetic musk fragrances in marine mammals and sharks from Japanese coastal waters.

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  • Graduate School of Science and Technology, Kumamoto University, 2-39-1 Kurokami, Kumamoto 860-8555, Japan. nakata@sci.kumamoto-u.ac.jp


In this study, the occurrence of the polycyclic musk fragrances HHCB (1,3,4,6,7,8-hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta[g]-2-benzopyran) and AHTN (7-acetyl-1,1,3,4,4,6-hexamethyltetrahydeonaphthalene) in marine mammals and sharks collected from Japanese coastal waters is reported. HHCB was present in the blubbers of all finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) analyzed (n = 8), at levels ranging from 13 to 149 ng/g on a wet weight basis. A fetus sample of finless porpoise contained a notable concentration of HHCB (26 ng/g wet wt), suggesting transplacental transfer of this compound. Among 12 tissues and organs of a finless porpoise analyzed, the highest HHCB concentration was found in blubber, followed by kidney. This indicates that HHCB accumulates in lipid-rich tissues in marine mammals, which is similar to the accumulation profiles of persistent organochlorines, such as PCBs and DDTs. In general, the residue levels of AHTN and nitro musks were low or below the detection limits in finless porpoises, implying either less usage in Japan or high metabolic capacity of these compounds in this animal. HHCB was also found in the livers of five hammerhead sharks (Sphrna lewini) from Japanese coastal waters, at concentrations ranging from 16 to 48 ng/g wet wt. Occurrence of HHCB in higher trophic organisms strongly suggests that it is less degradable in the environment and accumulates in the top predators of marine food chains. This is the first report on the accumulation of synthetic musk fragrances in marine mammals and sharks.

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