Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Marine Lab Tracks Pollutants in Dolphins and Beluga Whales

12.05.2011
Bottlenose dolphins* and beluga whales**, two marine species at or near the top of their respective food webs, accumulate more chemical pollutants in their bodies when they live and feed in waters near urbanized areas, according to scientists working at the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML), a government-university collaboration in Charleston, S.C.

In papers recently published online by the journal Environmental Science & Technology, one research team looked at the levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) found in male dolphins along the U.S. East and Gulf of Mexico coasts and Bermuda, while the other group examined the levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in beluga whales at two Alaskan locations. Data gathered in both studies are expected to serve as baseline measurements for future research to define the health effects and impacts of these pollutants on the two species.

POPs are a large group of man-made chemicals that, as their name indicates, persist in the environment. They can spread globally through air and water, accumulate in the food chain, and may have carcinogenic, neurodevelopmental, immune or endrocrine effects on both wildlife and humans. To study POP concentrations in male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Duke University Marine Laboratory, Florida State University and the Chicago Zoological Society teamed up to collect and examine blubber biopsy samples from 2000 to 2007 at eight locations along the U.S. East coast (from New Jersey to Eastern Florida), five sites in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off Bermuda. The researchers analyzed the dolphin blubber for POPs that were once used as insecticides (such as DDT), insulating fluids (polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs), flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs) and a fungicide (hexachlorobenzene, or HCB).

Overall, PCBs were the pollutants found in the highest concentrations across the 14 sampling locations, followed by DDT, other pesticides and PBDEs, and HCB. Levels for POPs were statistically higher in dolphins living and feeding in waters near more urban and industrialized areas. The exceptions were the PCB levels recorded in dolphins living in waters near Brunswick, Ga., contaminated from a former factory that is now an Environmental Protection Agency “Superfund” cleanup site. These PCB levels were the highest ever observed in a group of living marine mammals.

In the second study, a NIST team analyzed the levels of 12 PFCs in livers harvested from 68 beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) that had lived and fed in two Alaskan locations: Cook Inlet in the urban southern part of the state and the Chukchi Sea in the remote northern part. The samples were collected from 1989 to 2006 by Native Alaskans during subsistence hunts and stored at NIST’s National Marine Mammal Tissue Bank (NMMTB). This was the first study to look at the concentration of PFCs in belugas from Alaska.

PFCs have been used as nonstick coatings and additives in a wide variety of goods including cookware, furniture fabrics, carpets, food packaging, fire-fighting foams and cosmetics. They are very stable, persist for a long time in the environment and are known to be toxic to the liver, reproductive organs and immune systems of laboratory mammals.

PFCs were detected in all of the beluga livers, with two compounds—perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA)—found in more than half the samples. All but one of the PFC concentrations measured were significantly higher in the Cook Inlet belugas, an expected result given the nearby urban, industrialized area. The exception was PFOSA, where levels were higher amongst the Chukchi Sea whales. The researchers are unsure if this is the result of the pollutant being carried into the remote region by ocean currents, atmospheric transport or a combination of both. They also found that PFC concentrations in belugas increased significantly over the seven-year study period and were mostly higher in males.

The HML is a unique partnership of governmental and academic agencies including NIST, NOAA’s National Ocean Service, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina. NIST maintains the NMMTB at the HML to provide archived samples for retrospective analysis of contaminants of emerging concern.

* J. Kucklick, L. Schwacke, R. Wells, A. Hohn, A. Guichard, J. Yordy, L. Hansen, E. Zolman, R. Wilson, J. Litz, D. Nowacek, T. Rowles, R. Pugh, B. Balmer, C. Sinclair and P. Rosel. Bottlenose dolphins as indicators of persistent organic pollutants in the western north Atlantic ocean and northern gulf of Mexico. Environmental Science & Technology. Published online Apr. 28, 2011.

** J.L. Reiner, S.G. O’Connell, A.J. Moors, J.R. Kucklick, P.R. Becker and J.M. Keller. Spatial and temporal trends of perfluorinated compounds in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from Alaska. Environmental Science & Technology. Published online Feb. 10, 2011.

Michael E. Newman | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>