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Sci Total Environ. 2006 Aug 1;366(2-3):659-72. Epub 2006 Mar 31.

Biomagnification of PBDEs and PCBs in food webs from the Baltic Sea and the northern Atlantic Ocean.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


Biomagnification of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) in food webs from the Baltic Sea and the northern Atlantic Sea was investigated. For this, we used PCB and PBDE concentration data, together with data on fish body weight and delta15N of fish and zooplankton as a measure of trophic position. In the Baltic Sea material, consisting of zooplankton, sprat, herring and salmon, we report biomagnification of all PCB congeners but PCB #209 and of PBDEs with 3-6 or 7 bromine atoms. Higher brominated PBDEs and PCB 209 did not biomagnify likely due to their high molecular weights or sizes and subsequent inefficient dietary uptake in fish. If salmon was excluded from the statistical analysis, strong biomagnification of PCB #209 was evident, indicating species differences in biomagnification. In the Baltic Sea material delta15N and body weight covaried. In the Atlantic Sea material, consisting of fish samples (herring and salmon) of larger body sizes, we show positive correlation between concentrations of most PCBs and PBDEs and body weight without increasing delta15N. This shows that biomagnification in some cases depends on body size and not trophic position. We conclude that there probably is trophic position dependence in biomagnification, which was manifested in a food chain from zooplankton to piscivores, but no further trophic position influence on biomagnification in fish at the highest trophic levels. In these fish, there was a body size effect leading to biomagnification, probably due to slower clearance in larger fish. PCB concentrations were generally between 2 and 6 times higher in Baltic Sea salmon than in Atlantic Sea salmon. Higher PBDE concentrations in the Baltic compared to the Atlantic Sea salmon were also found, but with a larger variation between congeners. Nona- to deca-BDEs were found in most investigated samples, which illustrates the bioavailability of these compounds. Unidentified penta-, hexa-, hepta-, and octa- BDEs were found in several samples.

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