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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Mar 15;44(6):2004-10. doi: 10.1021/es903191u.

On the rate of decline of persistent organic contaminants in lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) from the Great Lakes, 1970-2003.

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Environmental Health Sciences MMC 807, School of Public Health University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


Thirty-four years of data from the Great Lakes Fish Monitoring Program (GLFMP) show significant changes in the behavior of most contaminants in lake trout over time consistent with changes in contaminant inputs following regulation and remediation. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) show positive apparent first-order rate constants falling to near zero. Dieldrin shows relatively unchanging half-lives of around 10 years except in Lake Superior (approximately 25 years). Mirex, consistently detected only in Lake Ontario fish, shows a slow decrease until the 1990s, when remediation of a source site occurred, after which half-lives are 2-3 years. Half-lives of oxychlordane, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dichloro-diphenyl-trichlorethane (DDT) and its metabolites were typically 3-6 years until the mid 1980s; since then, the newest data confirm half-lives are usually around 15-30 years. For PCBs, an increasing half-life is found in other media as well. Changes in food web structure, fishery dynamics, and climate undoubtedly affect concentrations but cannot explain observed long-term trends across several media. Concentrations of legacy contaminants in the Great Lakes are likely to continue to decline only slowly and pose a health concern for decades without identifying and containing remaining sources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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