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Chemosphere. 2008 Dec;73(11):1773-80. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.09.016. Epub 2008 Oct 23.

Bioaccumulation of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in harbor seals from the northwest Atlantic.

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Marine Environmental Research Institute, Blue Hill, ME 04614, USA.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were analyzed in blubber of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) collected between 1991 and 2005 along the northwest Atlantic. summation operatorPBDE concentrations (mono- to hexa-BDEs) detected in blubber samples (n=42) ranged from 80 to 25720 ng g(-1)lw, (overall mean 2403+/-5406 ng g(-1)lw). By age, mean summation operatorPBDE concentrations were: 3645+/-7388, 2945+/-5995, 1385+/-1265, and 326+/-193 ng g(-1)lw in pups, yearlings, adult males, and adult females, respectively. Unlike the trend for PCBs, no decreasing gradient from urban to rural/remote areas was observed for PBDEs in these samples, likely reflecting inputs from local sources. No significant temporal trend was observed for PBDEs in harbor seals between 1991 and 2005, although congener profiles shifted over time. Tetra-BDE-47 was the dominant congener, followed by BDEs-99, -100, -153, -154, and -155 in varying order, suggesting exposure to the penta-BDE product. In adult males, the hexa-BDEs contributed more to the total (22%) than BDEs-99 and -100 (14%), and concentrations of BDE-155 were elevated compared with -154. Higher BDEs were detected in a subset of seals (n=12) including hepta-BDE-183, the marker for the octa-BDE mixture, and octa-BDE-197, along with several unidentified hepta- and octa- congeners. BDE-209 was detected in seal blubber at concentrations ranging from 1.1 to 8 ng g(-1)lw, indicating that deca-BDE is bioavailable in this marine food web. This is the first study to document the accumulation of BDE-209 at measurable levels in wild harbor seals. While the PBDE patterns in blubber indicate exposure to all three BDE commercial mixtures, the data also suggest that BDE-209 debromination by seal prey fish may contribute to the loading of lower brominated congeners (hexa- to octa-BDEs) in these seals.

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