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Sci Total Environ. 1998 Sep 29;221(1):11-29.

Levels of organochlorine and polycyclic aromatic compounds in harp seal beaters (Phoca groenlandica).

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St. Andrews Biological Station, New Brunswick, Canada.


Chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans, chlorobiphenyls, organochlorine pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were measured in blubber, liver, kidney and muscle of five male and five female, 8-month-old harp seals (Phoca groenlandica). Levels of organochlorine contaminants were lowest in muscle, nearly 100 times higher in blubber and intermediate in kidney and liver. Only 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzofuran was detected in all liver and blubber samples (0.45 and 3.15 pg/g wet wt., respectively). Concentrations of chlorobiphenyls expressed as Aroclor 1254 were 3.8 and 8.2, 8.6 and 21.5, 23 and 73, and 945 and 890 ng/g wet wt. in the muscle, kidney, liver and blubber of female and male seals, respectively. p,p'-DDE, trans-nonachlor, oxychlordane and alpha-HCH were the additional predominant organochlorine compounds at 460 and 460, 415 and 530, 300 and 390, and 190 and 230 ng/g wet in the blubber of female and male seals, respectively. Concentrations of chlorobiphenyls and pesticides in muscle, liver and kidney were two-three times higher in males compared to females, whether expressed on a wet weight or a lipid weight basis, and approximately equal in blubber, even though the blubber layer of females was 30% thicker than that of males. Naphthalene and its C1-C3 homologues were detected in all tissues, generally at concentrations below 10 ng/g wet wt. The concentrations of PCBs and DDTs in blubber are considerably lower than those reported for juvenile seals from the same area 20 years ago. PCB and organochlorine pesticide concentrations and profiles are discussed in relation to those reported from other areas, as well as to sex and age of the seals.

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