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Sci Total Environ. 2004 Sep 20;331(1-3):157-75.

Chlorobenzenes, chlorinated pesticides, coplanar chlorobiphenyls and other organochlorine compounds in Greenland biota.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology, National Environmental Research Institute, Frederiksborgvej 399, Roskilde, Denmark.


This paper summarises the levels and composition of chlorobenzenes, chlorinated pesticides, coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the chlorinated compounds octachlorostyrene (OCS), hexachlorocyclobutadiene (HCBD) and pentachloro-anisole (PCA) in biota from the terrestrial, freshwater and marine environment of Greenland. The data were obtained during the second phase of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). Of the chlorobenzenes, hexachlorobenzene was the main constituent detected in almost all samples. The chlorobenzenes accumulate in the marine food web in a similar manner to the better-studied persistent organic pollutants, with maximum concentrations in beluga, minke whale and narwhal. However, concentrations in ringed seals and kittiwakes were lower than in marine fish, contradicting biomagnification. Of the organochlorine pesticides, the drin pesticides (aldrin, endrin, dieldrin) and heptachlor had increasing concentrations along the food chain, whilst biomagnification was less pronounced for endosulfan, methoxychlor and mirex. Endosulfan and methoxychlor are pesticides still in use and considered less persistent than other organochlorine pesticides. Their occurrence in Arctic biota is of particular concern, also given the high acute toxicity of endosulfan to fish. Chlorobenzene and pesticide concentrations tended to be lower in the Greenland samples than in the same animals from the Canadian Arctic, whilst their concentrations were similar to samples from Svalbard and Iceland. However, temporal trends might overlap the geographical differences. Coplanar chlorobiphenyls (CBs) were found in all samples analysed, with the maximum concentrations found in marine mammals such as beluga and narwhal. Biota from the terrestrial environment appeared to be less contaminated. The main contributor on a TEQ basis was CB126. OCS, HCBD and PCA were detected in biota from Greenland, although at very low concentrations. OCS seems to have the widest occurrence and the highest potential for biomagnification of the three compounds analysed.

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