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Chemosphere. 2010 Apr;79(7):733-9. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.02.043. Epub 2010 Mar 17.

Concentrations and accumulation features of PCDDs, PCDFs and dioxin-like PCBs in cetaceans from Korean coastal waters.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Marine Sciences, College of Science and Technology, Hanyang University, Ansan 426-791, Republic of Korea.


Despite several studies that report accumulation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and DDT in marine mammals worldwide, very few have examined polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and dioxin-like PCBs. In particular, no earlier studies have reported concentrations and accumulation profiles of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in marine mammals from Korea. In this study, concentrations and accumulation features of PCDD/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs were measured in liver and blubber of minke whales and long-beaked common dolphins collected from Korean coastal waters. The concentrations of PCDFs and dioxin-like PCBs in blubber were 3-10 times higher than the concentrations measured in liver, but PCDDs were higher in liver than blubber. Total toxic equivalent (TEQ) concentrations in blubber of minke whales and common dolphins from Korean coastal waters were similar to, or higher than those reported for cetaceans and seals from other countries. Homologue and congener profiles of PCDD/Fs were different between livers and blubbers, while the profiles of dioxin-like PCBs were similar between the tissues. Concentrations of PCDD/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs in liver and blubber of dolphins were significantly higher than those measured in whales, due to differences in habitat and diet. The relative contribution of individual chemical groups to total TEQs was different between the two cetacean species, suggesting different exposures and metabolic activity. The TEQ levels in minke whales did not exceed the threshold level suggested for immunomodulation, while TEQs in all dolphin samples exceeded the suggested threshold level, implying potential adverse health effects from exposure to PCDD/Fs and PCBs.

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