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Environ Sci Technol. 2004 Aug 15;38(16):4293-9.

PBDEs, PBBs, and PCNs in three communities of free-ranging killer whales (Orcinus orca) from the northeastern Pacific Ocean.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V8W 3V6.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), and polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) were quantified in blubber biopsy samples collected from free-ranging male and female killer whales (Orcinus orca) belonging to three distinct communities (southern residents, northern residents, and transients) from the northeastern Pacific Ocean. High concentrations of sigmaPBDE were observed in male southern residents (942+/-582 ng/g Iw), male and female transients (1015+/-605 and 885+/-706 ng/g Iw, respectively), and male and female northern residents (203+/-116 and 415+/-676 ng/g Iw, respectively). Because of large variation within sample groups, sigmaPBDE levels generally did not differ statistically with the exception of male northern residents, which had lower sigmaPBDE concentrations than male southern residents, male transients, and female transients, perhaps reflecting the consumption of less contaminated prey items. Male transient killer whales, which consume high trophic level prey including other cetaceans and occasionally spend time near populated areas, had sigmaPBDE concentrations approximately equal to southern residents. No significant age-related relationships were observed for sigmaPBDE concentrations. sigmaPBDE concentrations were approximately 1-3 orders of magnitude greater than those of sigmaPBB (3.0-31 ng/g Iw) and sigmaPCN (20-167 ng/g Iw) measured in a subset of samples, suggesting that PBDEs may represent a contaminant class of concern in these marine mammals.

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