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Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014 Jun;163:55-63. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpc.2014.01.003. Epub 2014 Jan 25.

Global assessment of arsenic pollution using sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) as an emerging aquatic model organism.

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  • 1Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology, University of Southern Maine, P.O. Box 9300, 96 Falmouth St., Portland, ME 04104, USA; Maine Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, University of Southern Maine, P.O. Box 9300, 96 Falmouth St., Portland, ME 04104, USA; Department of Applied Medical Sciences, University of Southern Maine, 178 Science Building, Portland, ME 04104, USA.
  • 2Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology, University of Southern Maine, P.O. Box 9300, 96 Falmouth St., Portland, ME 04104, USA.
  • 3Maine Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, University of Southern Maine, P.O. Box 9300, 96 Falmouth St., Portland, ME 04104, USA; Department of Applied Medical Sciences, University of Southern Maine, 178 Science Building, Portland, ME 04104, USA.
  • 4Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of Connecticut, 3107 Horsebarn Hill Road; U-4210, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.
  • 5Yale School of Public Health, P.O. Box 208034, 60 College Street, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.
  • 6Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology, University of Southern Maine, P.O. Box 9300, 96 Falmouth St., Portland, ME 04104, USA; Maine Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, University of Southern Maine, P.O. Box 9300, 96 Falmouth St., Portland, ME 04104, USA; Department of Applied Medical Sciences, University of Southern Maine, 178 Science Building, Portland, ME 04104, USA. Electronic address: John.Wise@usm.maine.edu.

Abstract

Arsenic is an oceanic pollutant of global concern due to its toxicity, ability to bioaccumulate and continued input into the environment by anthropogenic activities. The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is an emerging aquatic model for both human disease and ocean health having global distribution and high trophic level. The aim of this study was to establish global and regional baselines of total arsenic concentrations using free-ranging sperm whales. Skin biopsies (n=342) were collected during the voyage of the Odyssey (2000-2005) from 17 regions considering gender and age in males. Arsenic was detectable in 99% of samples with a global mean of 1.9μg/g ww ranging from 0.1 to 15.6μg/g ww. Previous work in toothed whale skin found mean concentrations 3 fold lower with 0.6μg/g ww. A significant gender-related effect was found with males having higher mean arsenic concentrations than females. There was no significant age-related effect between adult and subadult males. Arsenic concentrations in sloughed skin samples were similar to levels in skin biopsies indicating that arsenic excretion can occur by skin sloughing. Regional mean concentrations were highest in the Maldives, Seychelles and Sri Lanka with 3.5, 2.5, and 2.4μg/g ww, respectively, raising concern for arsenic pollution in the Indian Ocean. Literature suggests that arsenic exposure is emitted from natural sources and the heavy use of arsenic-containing pesticides and herbicides in this region. These data suggest that research is needed in determining the extent and source of arsenic pollution in the Indian Ocean.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

Arsenic; Atlantic Ocean; Indian Ocean; Mediterranean Sea; Pacific Ocean; Sperm whale

PMID:
24473067
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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