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Science of the Total Environment



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Levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were measured in edible portions of Great Lakes fish, with the goal of examining patterns/trends and evaluating implications for human exposure. A total of 470 fillets of 18 fish species collected from various parts of the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes between 2006 and 2013 were analyzed for 17 (expanded to 33 in 2009) PBDEs. For a limited number of species, fillet to whole body and fillet to eggs PBDEs were compared to examine pattern and concentration among tissue types. Levels and patterns of PBDEs varied dramatically within and among the 18 fish species. Bottom dwelling Common Carp (and White Sucker) exhibited the highest ∑ PBDE levels (27–71 ng/g). Lake Trout and Lake Whitefish from Lake Superior had higher levels than those from the other Great Lakes; otherwise the spatial trend was Lake Ontario ≫ Erie ~ Huron ~ Superior. The measured levels would result in restriction on consumption of only Common Carp from the Toronto waterfront area, which is in proximity to the most urbanised region on the Canadian side of the basin. Deca-BDE was the major congener in panfish, while BDE-47 was the major congener in top predators and its contribution to ∑ PBDE increased with the contamination. Although ∑ PBDE was related to fish length and lipid content when all measurements were pooled, the relationships were variable for individual sampling events (species/location/year). Whole body ∑ PBDE for bottom dweller Brown Bullhead and Common Carp were 2.6–4.9 times greater and egg ∑ PBDE for four fatty Salmon/Trout species were same to 6.5 times greater than the corresponding fillet concentrations. Levels of major lower brominated PBDEs appear to have declined in fish fillets by 46–74% between 2006/07 and 2012. Although PBDE in existing consumer items will remain in-use for a while, it will likely not result in appreciable accumulation of PBDEs in fish. Based on an overall assessment, regular monitoring of PBDEs in Great Lake fish can be replaced with targeted surveillance and focus can be shifted to other in-use flame retardants. © 2016



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