Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Pollutants could pose health risks for 5 sea turtle species

Researchers at the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML) and four partner organizations have measured for the first time concentrations of 13 perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) in five different endangered species of sea turtles.

While PFC toxicology studies have not yet been conducted on turtles, the levels of the compounds seen in all five species approach the amounts known to cause adverse health effects in other animals.

PFCs are man-made compounds that have many uses including stain-resistant coatings, fire-fighting foams and emulsifiers in plastics manufacturing. They have become widespread pollutants, are detectable in human and wildlife samples worldwide, infiltrate food chains, and have been shown in laboratory animals—rats, mice and fish—to be toxic to the liver, the thyroid, neurobehavioral function and the immune system. The PFCs most commonly found in the environment are perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

Located in Charleston, S.C., the HML is a collaboration of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.

"In our experiment, we wanted to accomplish two goals," says NIST research biologist and study lead Jennifer Keller. "We wanted to get the first accurate measurements of the plasma blood concentrations of PFCs in five sea turtle species across different trophic [food chain] levels, and then compare those concentrations to ones known to cause toxic effects in laboratory animals. That way, we could estimate the potential health risks from PFC exposure for all five turtles."

The five sea turtle species studied were the green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead and Kemp's ridley. Their preferred diets range up the food chain from the green's sea grasses and algae to the crabs favored by the Kemp's ridley. The researchers expected that the PFC concentrations would be higher in species that fed farther up the food chain, since their prey's tissues would probably concentrate the pollutants.

This was generally the case. Plant-eating green turtles had the lowest plasma concentrations for the majority of PFCs examined, especially PFOS. As expected, leatherbacks, loggerheads and Kemp's ridleys had progressively higher PFOS concentrations. Surprisingly, however, hawksbills—who browse low on the food chain, primarily on sponges—recorded the second-highest average concentration of PFOS and were the only species to have a detectable PFOA level. The researchers surmise that this may relate to the locations where the hawksbills forage, or it may suggest that sponges have unusually high concentrations of PFOS and PFOA.

In the second part of the study, Keller and her colleagues compared the plasma concentrations of PFOS that they found in the five sea turtle species with previously reported concentrations that were shown to have adverse health effects in laboratory animals. The results showed that hawksbills, loggerheads and Kemp's ridleys had PFOS concentrations approaching those linked to liver and neurobehavioral toxicity in other animals; levels in loggerheads and Kemp's ridleys approached those linked to thyroid disruption in other animals; and all five species had levels that approached those linked to suppressed immunity in other animals.

"Better understanding the threat of PFCs, especially PFOS, to sea turtles can help wildlife managers and others develop strategies to deal with potential health problems," Keller says. "Our study provides the first baseline data in this area but more research is needed—especially for hawksbills after seeing their unexpectedly high PFC exposure."

Researchers from the College of Charleston's Grice Marine Laboratory, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and the Loggerhead Marinelife Center also contributed to the study.

* J.M. Keller, L. Ngai, J.B. McNeill, L.D. Wood, K.R. Stewart, S.G. O'Connell and J.R. Kucklick. Perfluoroakyl contaminants in plasma of five sea turtle species: Comparisons in concentration and potential health risks. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 31, No. 6, pp. 1223-1230 (June 2012). DOI: 10.1002/etc.1818

Michael E. Newman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>