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Mar Environ Res. 2008 Aug;66(2):225-30. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2008.02.004. Epub 2008 Feb 15.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in seal populations from eastern and western Canada: an assessment of the processes and factors controlling PBDE distribution in seals.

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  • 1Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Institute of Ocean Sciences, 9860 West Saanich Road, Sidney BC, Canada V8L 4B2.


Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations were measured in the blubber of five mother-pup pairs of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) from Sable Island, Nova Scotia (NS) sampled in 1995 and in 20 harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) from British Columbia (BC) sampled in 1991-1992. Concentrations in maternal grey seals from Sable Island averaged 112+/-55.2 ng/g lipid (mean+/-s.d.) and were over twice the concentrations measured in their pups; higher brominated PBDEs showed a distinct decline in PBDEs transfer efficiency in mother-pup pairs as a function of increasing K(o/w). Hepta-BDEs and higher molecular weight (MW) congeners appear not to be transferred efficiently from the grey seals mother to pup during lactation on the basis of lipid/water partitioning (as indicated by ln K(o/w)) and this may be a consequence of molecular size (MW>600 Da) which may limit diffusion and partitioning. PBDE concentrations in blubber from harbour seals from the Strait of Georgia averaged 319+/-132 ng/g lipid (mean+/-s.d., n=13), while those from the more remote and less contaminated Quatsino Sd. averaged 27.8+/-11.8 ng/g (mean+/-s.d., n=7). Tri- to hexa-BDEs were appreciably enriched in Strait of Georgia harbour seals relative to those from Quatsino Sd, suggesting that the former were closer to PBDE sources. The main congeners identified in all samples were BDEs 47, 99, 100, 153 and 154. Data were compared to those in ringed seals sampled from Holman, North West Territories (NWT), in 1996. The Holman samples had a higher proportion of lower bromination congeners, and a lower proportion of higher bromination congeners, than did the Sable Island and BC seal samples, consistent with selection in favour of more volatile compounds during atmospheric transport to the Arctic.

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