Levels and trends of organochlorines and brominated flame retardants in Ivory Gull eggs from the Canadian Arctic, 1976 to 2004

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Science of the Total Environment





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The ivory gull (Pagophila eburnea) is a circumpolar marine bird which has recently been listed as an endangered species in Canada. To determine whether contaminants may be playing a role in the population decline of this species, ivory gull eggs collected in 1976, 1987 and 2004 from Seymour Island in the Canadian Arctic were analyzed for organochlorines, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and non-ortho PCBs. This study also provides the first account of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs) and polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) in ivory gulls. The most quantitatively abundant legacy organochlorines found in the ivory gull eggs were p,p′-DDE, ΣPCB and oxychlordane. Concentrations of the organochlorines analyzed either decreased or showed little change between 1976 and 2004. Concentrations of ΣPCDD in ivory gull eggs were greater than ΣPCDF, and the non-ortho PCBs (primarily PCB-126) contributed the largest fraction to the total TEQ value in all years sampled. Concentrations of PCDDs, PCDFs and ΣTEQ decreased from 1976 to 2004. In contrast, concentrations of the PBDEs steadily increased between 1976 and 2004 driven primarily by increases in BDE-47. Although concentrations of the persistent chlorinated compounds (i.e. organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, PCDDs, PCDFs) reported in this study were below published toxicological threshold values for eggs of wild birds, we cannot rule out the possibility of synergistic/additive, sublethal effects. Very few studies have been carried out to evaluate the exposure-effect relationship of the persistent brominated compounds in avian species. Given the scarcity of information on toxicity threshold levels for PBBs and PBDEs in avian species, coupled with the trend toward increasing concentrations in ivory gulls, continued monitoring and further toxicological studies of these compounds are warranted. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.