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Environ Sci Technol. 2009 Jul 15;43(14):5212-7.

Residues of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in frogs (Rana limnocharis) from a contaminated site, South China: tissue distribution, biomagnification, and maternal transfer.

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State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, China.


Environmental pollutants are suspected to be a cause of global declines in amphibian populations, but few data are available on the bioaccumulation of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in amphibians. To examine the tissue distribution, biomagnification potential, and maternal transfer of PBDEs in frogs, eighteen PBDE congeners were measured in the muscle, liver, and egg tissues of rice frogs (Rana limnocharis) and insects collected from an electronic waste (e-waste) recycling site in South China. PBDE levels in the frogs ranged from 0.63 to 11.6, 4.57 to 56.2, and 10.7 to 125 ng/g wet wt in the muscles, livers, and eggs, respectively. The frogs exhibited a unique congener profile, compared to those in aquatic and terrestrial species, with BDEs 99, 153, 183, 209, and 47 as the dominant congeners, intermediating between aquatic and terrestrial species. Most of the PBDE congeners in general showed higher affinity to liver than to muscle tissue. Except for BDEs 28, 47, 66, 138, and 206, the average biomagnification factors (BMFs) for all PBDE congeners were greater than 1.0, providing clear evidence of their biomagnification from insects to frogs. A parabolic relationship between log BMFs and bromine atom numbers or log Kow of PBDEs was observed, with the maximum BMF values for PBDEs with 6 bromine atoms (or at a log K(ow) of approximately 8.0). Relatively higher levels of 3-MeO-BDE 47 were found in male frogs, suggesting that male frogs in the present study might have higher metabolic capacity for PBDEs compared to female frogs. The ratio of levels in egg/female liver, indicating mother-to-egg transfer capacity, increased with increasing bromine atom numbers up to 7 and then declined as the bromine atom numbers rose. This indicated that the physicochemical properties of the congeners (e.g., K(ow), molecular sizes, and structures), resulting in different affinities to transport proteins, might impact their maternal transfer in frogs.

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