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Sci Total Environ. 2010 Mar 1;408(7):1577-97. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.12.021. Epub 2010 Jan 22.

Contaminant blubber burdens in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from two southeastern US estuarine areas: concentrations and patterns of PCBs, pesticides, PBDEs, PFCs, and PAHs.

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Charleston, SC 29412, USA.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated pesticides (i.e., dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its metabolites, chlordanes (CHLs), dieldrin, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and mirex), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were measured in blubber biopsy samples collected from 139 wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) during 2003-2005 in Charleston (CHS), SC and the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), FL. Dolphins accumulated a similar suite of contaminants with summation operatorPCB dominating (CHS 64%, IRL 72%), followed by summation operatorDDT (CHS 20%, IRL 17%), summation operatorCHLs (CHS 7%; IRL 7%), summation operatorPBDE (CHS 4%, IRL 2%), PAH at 2%, and dieldrin, PFCs and mirex each 1% or less. Together summation operatorPCB and summation operatorDDT concentrations contributed approximately 87% of the total POCs measured in blubber of adult males. summation operatorPCBs in adult male dolphins exceed the established PCB threshold of 17mg/kg by a 5-fold order of magnitude with a 15-fold increase for many animals; 88% of the dolphins exceed this threshold. For male dolphins, CHS (93,980ng/g lipid) had a higher summation operatorPCBs geomean compared to the IRL (79,752ng/g lipid) although not statistically different. In adult males, the PBDE geometric mean concentration was significantly higher in CHS (5920ng/g lipid) than the IRL (1487ng/g). Blubber summation operatorPFCs concentrations were significantly higher in CHS dolphins. In addition to differences in concentration of PCB congeners, summation operatorPBDE, TEQ, summation operatorCHLs, mirex, dieldrin, and the ratios summation operatorDDE/ summation operatorDDT and trans-nonachlor/cis-nonachlor were the most informative for discriminating contaminant loads in these two dolphin populations. Collectively, the current summation operatorPCB, summation operatorDDT, and summation operatorPBDEs blubber concentrations found in CHS dolphins are among the highest reported values in marine mammals. Both dolphin populations, particularly those in CHS, carry a suite of organic chemicals at or above the level where adverse effects have been reported in wildlife, humans, and laboratory animals warranting further examination of the potential adverse effects of these exposures.

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