Environmental research

Trends of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecane in eggs of Canadian Arctic seabirds reflect changing use patterns.

PMID 26342589


Due to the substantial use and release of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants in North America, PBDE concentrations in North American marine biota are among the highest in the world. In this study, we compared PBDE concentrations and congener patterns in eggs of five seabird species (thick-billed murres, northern fulmars, black guillemots, glaucous gulls, black-legged kittiwakes) breeding at a colony in the Canadian Arctic in 1993, 2008 and 2013. Temporal trends of PBDEs (1975-2014) and another flame retardant, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) (2003-2014), were also examined in eggs of two seabird species, the thick-billed murre and northern fulmar. BDE-47 generally dominated the BDE congener profiles in eggs of all five species. Glaucous gulls had the highest concentrations of both ΣPBDE and BDE-47, and northern fulmars, the lowest. ΣPBDE concentrations increased exponentially in eggs of both thick-billed murres and northern fulmars from 1975 to 2003 with doubling times of 9.1 years in the murres and 7.2 years in the fulmars. From 2003 to 2008/09, ΣPBDE decreased rapidly in the murres and fulmars to concentrations not significantly different from those recorded in 1975 and 1987 for each species. After 2008/09, ΣPBDE concentrations plateaued. BDE-47 followed a similar temporal trend to that of ΣPBDE concentrations. These concentration trends were consistent with the phase-out of the penta- and octa-BDE products from the North American market in the mid-2000s. There was an overall decline in concentrations of HBCD in murre eggs from 2003 to 2014, whereas concentrations in the fulmar eggs increased from 2003 to 2006 followed by a decline to 2014. The ratio of HBCD to BDE-47 suggests that northern fulmars showed more of a European contaminant signature, and thick-billed murres, more of a North American signature.

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