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Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Mar 15;35(6):1072-7.

Comparison of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Lake Michigan salmonids.

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Water Chemistry Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 53706, USA.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been used extensively over the past two decades as flame retardants in most types of polymers. Many measurements of PBDEs in various environmental matrices from Sweden, Holland, Japan, and elsewhere have been reported, but few measurements are available for North America. PBDEs in 21 coho and chinook salmon taken from Lake Michigan tributaries in 1996 were measured for this study. The salmon samples were extracted and initially analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners. It was demonstrated for these samples that the same extract fraction contains PBDEs. Six PBDE congeners were observed in all 21 samples, and the rank order of concentration of these congeners was similar to that in commercial mixtures of PBDEs. The average concentration across all samples of the sum of PBDE congeners was 80.1 ng/g of wet weight or 2,440 ng/g of lipid. This is much less than the average sum PCB concentration (1,450 ng/g of wet weight; 43,100 ng/g of lipid). However, the average concentration of the most abundant PBDE congener (IUPAC BDE-49: 52.1 ng/g wet, 1,590 ng/g of lipid) was about one-third of the average concentration of the most abundant PCB congener (IUPAC CB-153: 149 ng/g wet, 4,550 ng/g of lipid). On the basis of an extensive literature survey, the concentrations of PBDEs reported here are among the highest in the world for salmon in open waters. The concentrations of PBDEs and PCBs are both correlated with fish length and mass, but not with lipid content. The concentrations of PBDEs and PCBs are highly correlated in individual fish, implying that PBDEs are as prevalent as PCBs in Lake Michigan.

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