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Chemosphere. 2007 Feb;67(1):51-9. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Age-dependent accumulation of heavy metals in a pod of killer whales (Orcinus orca) stranded in the northern area of Japan.

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1
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, 1757 Ishikari-Tobetsu, Hokkaido 061-0293, Japan. endotty@hoku-iryo-u.ac.jp

Abstract

Mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), iron (Fe) manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu) concentrations in the liver, kidney and muscle of nine killer whales (including three calves) that stranded together in the northern area of Japan were determined. The Hg and Cd concentrations were found at trace levels in the calf organs, and increased with age. The Fe concentration in the muscle was significantly lower in the calves than in the mature whales and also increased with age. In contrast, Mn and Cu concentrations in the muscle were significantly higher in the calves than in the mature whales, and changes in the Zn concentration relative to age were unclear. These results suggest minimal mother-to-calf transfer of the toxic metals Hg and Cd and accumulation of these metals in the organs with age, while the essential metals Mn and Cu were found at higher concentrations in the muscle of calves than in mature whales.

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