"New" POPs in marine mammals in Nordic Arctic and NE Atlantic areas during three decades

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Marine mammals hold a special position in the hearts of people inhabiting Nordic Arctic areas and in coastal communities around the North Atlantic Ocean as they are an essential part of the diet and traditional life-style. However, marine mammals are in a particularly vulnerable position as regards environmental pollutants, because of the large fat stores in their bodies which serve as a “magnet” to a large number of persistent and toxic pollutants. A Nordic Council of Ministers supported collaboration between Norway, Denmark/Greenland, Faroe Island, Iceland and Sweden set out to look for possible trends in “new” contaminants in marine mammals in Nordic Arctic waters. The “new” contaminants in focus are the brominated flame retardants including the PBDEs, methoxylated PBDEs, perfluorinated compounds including the PFOS family, and polychlorinated naphthalenes. In addition, a subset of the samples was analysed for brominated dioxins and dibenzofurans. The marine mammals studied were fin whale, minke whale, pilot whale, white-sided dolphins, harbour porpoise, ringed seal and hooded seal. The study aims at giving a wide scope of the presence of these ”new” contaminants in marine mammals in recent time and going back to the 1980s using samples from specimen banks.




The present report describes findings of “new” contaminants in marine mammals. The contaminants analysed include brominated flame retardants, both polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and other kinds which in this work is referred to as non-PBDEs, and subdivided into large and small brominated flame retardants. The study comprises also analyses of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) in marine mammals, and in some samples brominated dioxins and furans were analysed. The marine mammals analysed were ringed seal, hooded seal, harbour porpoise, white-sided dolphin, pilot whale, minke whale and fin whale. The marine mammals analysed were taken from localities in Nordic Arctic waters and North-East Atlantic areas over a period of three decennia (1984–2007). In general, the highest levels of “new” contaminants were found in toothed whales. High and moderate levels (250–1,200 ng/g LW) of PBDEs were found in blubber of several whale species studied. Temporal trend analysis showed that PBDEs increased from the 1980s to the 1990s, thereafter declining in the first part of the 2000s. Of the PFC compounds which were analysed in liver and muscle, the PFOS was found in the highest concentration (110 ng/g LW). Temporal trend analysis showed a decreasing trend for PFOS from 1990s/2000s and onwards, while PFNA and PFUnDA are increasing. PCNs were found in low concentrations in blubber (4 ng/g LW). In general, decreasing trends were found for the PCNs, and statistical significant decreasing trends were found for hooded seal from the West Ice and for fin whale from Iceland.


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