Marine Environmental Research Institute

Blue Hill, ME, United States

Marine Environmental Research Institute

Blue Hill, ME, United States
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Shaw S.D.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | Blum A.,University of California at Berkeley | Weber R.,Örebro University | Weber R.,POPs Environmental Consulting | And 8 more authors.
Reviews on Environmental Health | Year: 2010

Since the 1970s, an increasing number of regulations have expanded the use of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. Many of these chemicals are now recognized as global contaminants and are associated with adverse health effects in animals and humans, including endocrine and thyroid disruption, immunotoxicky, reproductive toxicity, cancer, and adverse effects on fetal and child development and neurologic function. Some flame retardants such as poly brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been banned or voluntarily phased out by manufacturers because of their environmental persistence and toxicity, only to be replaced by other organohalogens of unknown toxicity. Despite restrictions on further production in some countries, consumer products previously treated with banned retardants are still in use and continue to release toxic chemicals into the environment, and the worldwide use of organohalogen retardants continues to increase. This paper examines major uses and known toxic effects of commonly-used organohalogen flame retardants, replacements for those that have been phased out, their combustion by-products, and their effectiveness at reducing fire hazard. Policy and other solutions to maintain fire safety while reducing toxicity are suggested. The major conclusions are: (1) Flammability regulations can cause greater adverse environmental and health impacts than fire safety benefits. (2) The current options for end-of-life disposal of products treated with organohalogens retardants are problematic. (3) Life-cycle analyses evaluating benefits and risks should consider the health and environmental effects of the chemicals, as well as their fire safety impacts. (4) Most fire deaths and most fire injuries result from inhaling carbon monoxide, irritant gases, and soot. The incorporation of organohalogens can increase the yield of mese toxic by-products during combustion. (5) Fire-safe cigarettes, fire-safe candles, child-resistant lighters, sprinklers, and smoke detectors can prevent fires without the potential adverse effects of flame retardant chemicals. (6) Alternatives to organohalogen flame retardant chemicals include using less flammable materials, design changes, and safer chemicals. To date, before evaluating their health and environmental impacts, many flame retardant chemicals have been produced and used, resulting in high levels of human exposure. As a growing literature continues to find adverse impacts from such chemicals, a more systematic approach to their regulation is needed. Before implementing new flammability standards, decision-makers should evaluate the potential fire safety benefit versus the health and environmental impacts of the chemicals, materials, or technologies likely to be used to meet the standard. Reducing the use of toxic or untested flame retardant chemicals in consumer products can protect human and animal health and the global environment without compromising fire safety. © 2010 Freund Publishing House, Limited.


Shaw S.D.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | Shaw S.D.,Albany State University | Berger M.L.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | Harris J.H.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | And 8 more authors.
Chemosphere | Year: 2013

Polychlorinated and polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs and PBDD/Fs) were measured in serum of twelve firefighters sampled after a fire event in San Francisco, California, along with polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), p,p'-DDE, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), bisphenol-A (BPA) and tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA). TEQPCDD/F concentrations were relatively low (mean 5pgg-1 (lipid weight), lw, range 1-11pgg-1lw), but concentrations of 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDD, a congener indicative of exposure during firefighting, were elevated. Tentative WHO2005-TEQs calculated for PBDD/Fs in our samples (mean 104pgg-1lw, range 0.2-734pgg-1lw) suggested that PBDD/Fs may contribute substantially to dioxin-like toxicity in individual firefighters. PBDE concentrations were elevated in firefighter serum (mean 135ngg-1lw, range 48-442ngg-1lw). PBDE-209, PBDE-47 and PBDE-153 were prevalent congeners; PBDE-209 contributed >50% of the total PBDE concentration in four individuals, implying continuous occupational exposure to deca-BDE. Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) was the dominant PFC in serum (mean 12ngml-1 (wet weight), ww, range 3ngml-1ww to 59ngml-1ww), followed by perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (mean 7ngml-1ww, range 2ngml-1ww to 12ngml-1ww). Concentrations of perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) (mean 2ngml-1ww, range 1-4ngml-1ww) were higher than those reported in the high-smoke exposure group of World Trade Center fire responders, suggesting that the California firefighters were exposed to PFNA in smoke during firefighting. Given their elevated rates of cancers, these results illustrate the importance of monitoring halogenated contaminants including PBDD/Fs in firefighters. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


De Zoysa M.,Chungnam National University | Whang I.,Jeju National University | Nikapitiya C.,University of Rhode Island | Oh C.,Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute | And 3 more authors.
Fish and Shellfish Immunology | Year: 2011

Diverse antioxidant enzymes are essential for marine organisms to overcome oxidative stress as well as for the fine-tuning of immune reactions through activating different signal transduction pathways. This study describes the transcriptional analysis of antioxidant enzymes of disk abalone by challenging with bacteria (Vibrio alginolyticus, Vibrio parahemolyticus, and Listeria monocytogenes) and viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV). Upon bacteria and VHSV challenge, Manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), Copper, Zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD), catalase, thioredoxin peroxidase (TPx), Selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase (SeGPx), and thioredoxin-2 (TRx-2) expression levels were altered in gills, and hemocytes at different magnitudes. In gills, only MnSOD, catalase, and SeGPx genes were completely upregulated by post-challenge of bacterial and VHSV. Among them, SeGPx demonstrated strong upregulation by 16-fold (bacteria) and 2-fold (VHSV) in gills, and 5-fold (bacteria) and 3.0-fold (VHSV) in hemocytes. None of the genes examined were downregulated (in gills and hemocytes) by bacteria challenge even though CuZnSOD and TPx showed downregulation (completely) in hemocytes by VHSV. In general, abalone hemocytes had lower potential to induce antioxidant enzyme transcripts upon bacteria and VHSV challenge than gills. Based upon these results, we suggest that abalones induce oxidative stress in tissues during the bacteria and VHSV challenge, and the identified response of antioxidant enzymes could be supported for maintaining a low-level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that may serve as a signal for activating immune reactions against pathogenic conditions. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Shaw S.D.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | Shaw S.D.,Albany State University | Berger M.L.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | Weijs L.,University of Antwerp | And 2 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2014

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been detected at relatively high concentrations in harbor seals, apex predators in the northwest Atlantic. As part of an ongoing assessment of the effects of PCBs on population health, we analyzed tri- to deca-PCBs in the liver of 56 harbor seals (6 adult males, 50 pups) and in 11 blubber samples (4 adult males, 7 pups) and examined tissue-specific accumulation patterns, biomagnification potential, and toxic implications of current PCB concentrations. Hepatic ∑30PCB concentrations (overall mean±standard deviation: 76,860±111,800ng/g lipid weight, lw) were higher than blubber concentrations (48,180±69,420ng/g lw). Regional trends were suggestive of fresh PCB inputs from the industrialized, densely populated southern coast of New England versus the rural north. The lack of temporal trends confirmed that tissue concentrations of PCBs have plateaued since the early 1990s. Tissue distribution of PCBs varied significantly by age and, surprisingly by gender among the pups. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) revealed that lighter PCBs are selectively transferred from mother to pup blubber in relation to lipid solubility (log Kow), but heavier PCBs may be efficiently transferred during late lactation from mother to pup liver. Biomagnification factors (BMFs) for ∑6PCBs from prey fish to adult male seals ranged from 90 to 547 in the liver and 88 to 532 in the blubber, and suggested that molecular structure and metabolic capacity were more important influences than log Kow on the retention of PCBs. Blubber concentrations of ∑30PCBs in 87% of the pups were an order of magnitude higher than recent toxic reference values (TRVs) calculated for ∑154PCBs in nursing harbor seals, suggesting that the pups are at risk for PCB-mediated toxicity at a vulnerable stage of development. Given the recurring pattern of epizootics in these seals, the health of the population is of concern. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Shaw S.D.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | Shaw S.D.,Albany State University | Berger M.L.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | Weijs L.,University of Antwerp | Covaci A.,University of Antwerp
Environment International | Year: 2012

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs) are widely used flame retardants that enter coastal waters from multiple sources and biomagnify in marine food webs. PBDEs have been detected at relatively high concentrations in harbor seals, apex predators in the northwest Atlantic. Whereas tri- to hexa-BDEs readily biomagnified from prey fishes to seal blubber, Deca-BDE (BDE-209) did not biomagnify in blubber. To explore tissue-specific differences in the accumulation/biomagnification of BFRs, we analyzed tri- to Deca-BDES in liver of 56 harbor seals (6 adult males, 50 pups), and compared hepatic concentrations and biomagnification potential with those in blubber. HBCDs were analyzed in seal liver and blubber to enable similar comparisons. Hepatic σPBDE (tri- to Octa-BDE) concentrations (range 35-19,547. ng/g. lipid weight, lw) were similar to blubber concentrations, while α-HBCD levels in seal liver (range 2-279. ng/g. lw) were significantly higher than levels in blubber. Tissue distribution of PBDEs and α-HBCD varied significantly by age and, surprisingly, by gender among the pups. Biomagnification of α-HBCD from fish to seal liver and blubber was negligible to low, implying that harbor seals can metabolize this persistent isomer. Similar to the patterns in blubber, tri- through hexa-BDEs were highly biomagnified from fish to seal liver. In contrast, BDE-209 concentrations in liver were up to five times higher than those in blubber, which is consistent with observations that BDE-209 migrates to perfused tissues such as the liver in biota. Although detection frequency was low, BDE-209 levels in seal liver were up to ten times higher than those in their prey fish, suggesting that the accumulation/biomagnification of Deca-BDE in marine food webs is tissue-specific. As BDE-209 is the dominant PBDE found in marine sediments, its biomagnification in marine ecosystems is of concern. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Weijs L.,University of Antwerp | Shaw S.D.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | Berger M.L.,Marine Environmental Research Institute | Neels H.,University of Antwerp | And 2 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2014

Metabolites of PCBs and PBDEs are shown to influence the thyroid hormone homeostasis and therefore, could have an influence on the growth of newborn or young animals. We have investigated the occurrence of hydroxylated PCBs (HO-PCBs), hydroxylated PBDEs (HO-PBDEs), and methoxylated PBDEs (MeO-PBDEs) in the liver (48 pups; 6 adults) and blubber (4 pups; 1 adult) of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) from the northwest Atlantic. The sum of HO-PCBs in the liver ranged from 90 to 22,450pg/g wet weight (ww) for pups and from 410 to 5290pg/g ww for adults. Congener 4-HO-CB 107 was predominant in almost all samples regardless of age or gender, except in one adult male. Sum HO-PCB concentrations were highly correlated with the sum of precursor PCBs in the liver of harbor seals (r2=0.79; p<0.0001). Concentrations of sum HO-PBDEs in the liver ranged from 70 to 1850pg/g ww for pups and from 90 to 230pg/g ww for adults. HO-PBDEs were also correlated with PBDEs (r2=0.58; p<0.0001). Sum MeO-PBDE concentrations in the liver ranged from 20 to 1460pg/g ww in pups and from 10 to 270pg/g ww in adults. HO-PCBs and HO-PBDEs were not detected in the blubber. Levels of MeO-PBDEs in the blubber ranged from 1500 to 4400pg/g ww. In all blubber samples, 6-MeO-BDE 47 was the predominant MeO-PBDE congener, followed by 2'-MeO-BDE 68 and 5-MeO-BDE 47, respectively. The presence of HO-metabolites in pup liver suggests that young harbor seals may have some, yet limited, metabolic capacity for PCBs and PBDEs, which can lead to an excessive accumulation of these chemicals in the body. Moreover, the presence of HO-PCB and HO-PBDE metabolites may pose an additional stress for young harbor seals due to their influence on the thyroid hormone system and could have consequences for the entire population. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


PubMed | Marine Environmental Research Institute and University of Antwerp
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2014

Metabolites of PCBs and PBDEs are shown to influence the thyroid hormone homeostasis and therefore, could have an influence on the growth of newborn or young animals. We have investigated the occurrence of hydroxylated PCBs (HO-PCBs), hydroxylated PBDEs (HO-PBDEs), and methoxylated PBDEs (MeO-PBDEs) in the liver (48 pups; 6 adults) and blubber (4 pups; 1 adult) of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) from the northwest Atlantic. The sum of HO-PCBs in the liver ranged from 90 to 22,450 pg/g wet weight (ww) for pups and from 410 to 5290 pg/g ww for adults. Congener 4-HO-CB 107 was predominant in almost all samples regardless of age or gender, except in one adult male. Sum HO-PCB concentrations were highly correlated with the sum of precursor PCBs in the liver of harbor seals (r(2) = 0.79; p<0.0001). Concentrations of sum HO-PBDEs in the liver ranged from 70 to 1850 pg/g ww for pups and from 90 to 230 pg/g ww for adults. HO-PBDEs were also correlated with PBDEs (r(2) = 0.58; p<0.0001). Sum MeO-PBDE concentrations in the liver ranged from 20 to 1460 pg/g ww in pups and from 10 to 270 pg/g ww in adults. HO-PCBs and HO-PBDEs were not detected in the blubber. Levels of MeO-PBDEs in the blubber ranged from 1500 to 4400 pg/g ww. In all blubber samples, 6-MeO-BDE 47 was the predominant MeO-PBDE congener, followed by 2-MeO-BDE 68 and 5-MeO-BDE 47, respectively. The presence of HO-metabolites in pup liver suggests that young harbor seals may have some, yet limited, metabolic capacity for PCBs and PBDEs, which can lead to an excessive accumulation of these chemicals in the body. Moreover, the presence of HO-PCB and HO-PBDE metabolites may pose an additional stress for young harbor seals due to their influence on the thyroid hormone system and could have consequences for the entire population.


PubMed | Marine Environmental Research Institute
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Reviews on environmental health | Year: 2011

Since the 1970s, an increasing number of regulations have expanded the use of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. Many of these chemicals are now recognized as global contaminants and are associated with adverse health effects in animals and humans, including endocrine and thyroid disruption, immunotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, cancer, and adverse effects on fetal and child development and neurologic function. Some flame retardants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been banned or voluntarily phased out by manufacturers because of their environmental persistence and toxicity, only to be replaced by other organohalogens of unknown toxicity. Despite restrictions on further production in some countries, consumer products previously treated with banned retardants are still in use and continue to release toxic chemicals into the environment, and the worldwide use of organohalogen retardants continues to increase. This paper examines major uses and known toxic effects of commonly-used organohalogen flame retardants, replacements for those that have been phased out, their combustion by-products, and their effectiveness at reducing fire hazard. Policy and other solutions to maintain fire safety while reducing toxicity are suggested. The major conclusions are: (1) Flammability regulations can cause greater adverse environmental and health impacts than fire safety benefits. (2) The current options for end-of-life disposal of products treated with organohalogens retardants are problematic. (3) Life-cycle analyses evaluating benefits and risks should consider the health and environmental effects of the chemicals, as well as their fire safety impacts. (4) Most fire deaths and most fire injuries result from inhaling carbon monoxide, irritant gases, and soot. The incorporation of organohalogens can increase the yield of these toxic by-products during combustion. (5) Fire-safe cigarettes, fire-safe candles, child-resistant lighters, sprinklers, and smoke detectors can prevent fires without the potential adverse effects of flame retardant chemicals. (6) Alternatives to organohalogen flame retardant chemicals include using less flammable materials, design changes, and safer chemicals. To date, before evaluating their health and environmental impacts, many flame retardant chemicals have been produced and used, resulting in high levels of human exposure. As a growing literature continues to find adverse impacts from such chemicals, a more systematic approach to their regulation is needed. Before implementing new flammability standards, decision-makers should evaluate the potential fire safety benefit versus the health and environmental impacts of the chemicals, materials, or technologies likely to be used to meet the standard. Reducing the use of toxic or untested flame retardant chemicals in consumer products can protect human and animal health and the global environment without compromising fire safety.

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