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Brown T.M.,Raincoast Conservation Foundation | Brown T.M.,Memorial University of Newfoundland | Ross P.S.,Ocean Pollution Research Program | Reimer K.J.,Royal Military College of Canada
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology | Year: 2016

The transplacental transfer of persistent organic pollutants in marine mammals takes place at a formative developmental period, thereby exposing the fetus to endocrine-disrupting compounds. We evaluated the transplacental transfer of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in five pregnant ringed seals in Northern Labrador, Canada. PCBs, PBDEs, and OCPs were transferred from the mother to the fetus with average concentrations in the fetuses ranging from 0.3 ng/g lipid weight (lw) of mirex to 94 ng/g lw of PCBs. The average percent transferred to the blubber in the fetus was very low with <0.02 % for each of the compounds studied. Based on relationships observed, transfer for full-term fetuses is estimated to range from 0.03 to 0.27 %. Log K ow explained the transfer of PCBs (r2 = 0.67, p < 0.001) and OCPs (r2 = 0.62, p < 0.001) with those PCB congeners and OCP compounds having a log Kow of <6.0 and 4.6, respectively, because they are preferentially transferred to the fetus. Adult females transferred a contaminant mixture to their fetuses, which correlated with estimated fetal age (p < 0.001; r2 = 0.697), with younger fetuses showing a greater proportion of compounds with low Kow compared with later-term fetuses. The implications for the prenatal exposure to these developmental toxicants remains unknown because current toxicity thresholds in marine mammals have only been derived from juveniles or adults. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media.

Brown T.M.,University of Victoria | Ross P.S.,Ocean Pollution Research Program | Reimer K.J.,Royal Military College of Canada | Veldhoen N.,University of Victoria | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2014

Causal evidence linking toxic injury to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure is typically confounded by the complexity of real-world contaminant mixtures to which aquatic wildlife are exposed. A local PCB "hotspot" on the Labrador coast provided a rare opportunity to evaluate the effects of PCBs on the health of a marine mammal as this chemical dominated their persistent organic pollutant (POP) burdens. The release of approximately 260 kg of PCBs by a military radar facility over a 30 year period (1970-2000) contaminated some local marine biota, including the ringed seal (Pusa hispida). The abundance profiles of eight health-related gene transcripts were evaluated in liver samples collected from 43 ringed seals in the affected area. The mRNA transcript levels of five gene targets, including aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr), interleukin-1 β (Il1b), estrogen receptor α (Esr1), insulin like growth factor receptor 1 (Igf1), and glucocorticoid receptor α (Nr3c1) correlated with increasing levels of blubber PCBs. PCB threshold values calculated using best-fit hockey-stick regression models for these five genes averaged 1,680 ± 206 ng/g lw, with the lowest, most conservative, being 1,370 ng/g lw for Il1b. Approximately 14% of the seals in the region exceeded this threshold. The dominance of PCBs in the seals studied enabled an assessment of the effects of this chemical on gene transcripts involved in regulating the health of a highly mobile predator, something that is rarely possible in the world of complex mixtures. © 2014 American Chemical Society.

Desforges J.-P.W.,Ocean Pollution Research Program | Dangerfield N.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans | Shaw P.D.,Environment Canada | Ross P.S.,Ocean Pollution Research Program
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2014

Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations and profiles in paired sediment-plankton samples were determined along a 500 km transect in coastal British Columbia, Canada. PCB and PBDE levels in sediment were both greater in the industrialized Strait of Georgia than in remote northern sites and exhibited parallel spatial trends. In plankton, recent-use PBDE levels were higher near-source, while levels of legacy PCBs were uniform across sites. Principal component analysis of 95 PCB congeners illustrated the influence of proximity to source (i.e., latitude) on congener patterns for both matrices (sediment, r2 = 0.52, p = 0.012; plankton, r2 = 0.59, p = 0.016). The PCB pattern in plankton grew lighter with latitude, but the opposite pattern in sediments suggested that temperature-related fractionation, sediment processes, and basin-wide oceanography had divergent effects on each matrix. Biota-sediment accumulation factors (BSAFs) were greater for PBDEs than PCBs, but spatial profiles were similar; PCBs and PBDEs were near equilibrium in remote atmospherically driven sites (BSAF = 1.7 and 1.3) but accumulated preferentially in sediments at source-driven sites (BSAF = 0.2 and 0.4). The influences of particle-binding and hydrophobicity on the aquatic fate of PCBs and PBDEs was evident by the strong influence of log KOW on congener-specific BSAFs (PCBs, r2 = 0.18 p < 0.001; PBDEs, r2 = 0.61 p < 0.001). While biotic uptake of PCBs has become spatially uniform in coastal BC because of dilution over time, biomagnification of PBDEs remains higher in industrialized waters. © 2014 American Chemical Society.

Alava J.J.,Simon Fraser University | Alava J.J.,Ocean Pollution Research Program | Ross P.S.,Ocean Pollution Research Program | Gobas F.A.P.C.,Simon Fraser University
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology | Year: 2016

Resident killer whale populations in the NE Pacific Ocean are at risk due to the accumulation of pollutants, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). To assess the impact of PBDEs in water and sediments in killer whale critical habitat, we developed a food web bioaccumulation model. The model was designed to estimate PBDE concentrations in killer whales based on PBDE concentrations in sediments and the water column throughout a lifetime of exposure. Calculated and observed PBDE concentrations exceeded the only toxicity reference value available for PBDEs in marine mammals (1500 μg/kg lipid) in southern resident killer whales but not in northern resident killer whales. Temporal trends (1993-2006) for PBDEs observed in southern resident killer whales showed a doubling time of ≈5 years. If current sediment quality guidelines available in Canada for polychlorinated biphenyls are applied to PBDEs, it can be expected that PBDE concentrations in killer whales will exceed available toxicity reference values by a large margin. Model calculations suggest that a PBDE concentration in sediments of approximately 1.0 μg/kg dw produces PBDE concentrations in resident killer whales that are below the current toxicity reference value for 95 % of the population, with this value serving as a precautionary benchmark for a management-based approach to reducing PBDE health risks to killer whales. The food web bioaccumulation model may be a useful risk management tool in support of regulatory protection for killer whales. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media.

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