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"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.

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Results

The samples were analysed for BDE-28, BDE-47, BDE-66, BDE-100, BDE-99, BDE-85, BDE-154, BDE-153, BDE-138 and BDE-183 (Appendix 2). The sum of these congeners is given as Σ10PBDEs. In addition, samples of ringed seal, pilot whale, and minke whale from Norway were analysed for BDE-209 (Appendix 4). However, BDE-209 was not detected in any sample at detection limits in the range 0.5 to 3.0 ng/g lipid. Overall, when comparing the most recent samples across species and regions (Figure 4), it appears that the highest concentrations of PBDEs are found in toothed whales, like pilot whale, white-sided dolphins and harbour porpoises.

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