Persistent organic pollutants in fat of three species of Pacific pelagic longline caught sea turtles: Accumulation in relation to ingested plastic marine debris

Image 2In addition to eating contaminated prey, sea turtles may be exposed to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from ingesting plastic debris that has absorbed these chemicals. Given the limited knowledge about POPs in pelagic sea turtles and how plastic ingestion influences POP exposure, our objectives were to: 1) provide baseline contaminant levels of three species of pelagic Pacific sea turtles; and 2) assess trends of contaminant levels in relation to species, sex, length, body condition and capture location. In addition, we hypothesized that if ingesting plastic is a significant source of POP exposure, then the amount of ingested plastic may be correlated to POP concentrations accumulated in fat. To address our objectives we compared POP concentrations in fat samples to previously described amounts of ingested plastic from the same turtles. Fat samples from 25 Pacific pelagic sea turtles [2 loggerhead (Caretta caretta), 6 green (Chelonia mydas) and 17 olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtles] were analyzed for 81 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 20 organochlorine pesticides, and 35 brominated flame-retardants. The olive ridley and loggerhead turtles had higher ΣDDTs (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and metabolites) than ΣPCBs, at a ratio similar to biota measured in the South China Sea and southern California. Green turtles had a ratio close to 1:1. These pelagic turtles had lower POP levels than previously reported in nearshore turtles. POP concentrations were unrelated to the amounts of ingested plastic in olive ridleys, suggesting that their exposure to POPs is mainly through prey. In green turtles, concentrations of ΣPCBs were positively correlated with the number of plastic pieces ingested, but these findings were confounded by covariance with body condition index (BCI). Green turtles with a higher BCI had eaten more plastic and also had higher POPs. Taken together, our findings suggest that sea turtles accumulate most POPs through their prey rather than marine debris.

Katharine E. Clukey, Christopher A. Lepczyk, George H. Balazs and al., Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 610–611, 1 January 2018, Pages 402-411

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Molecular identification of polymers and anthropogenic particles extracted from oceanic water and fish stomach – A Raman micro-spectroscopy study

Pacific Ocean trawl samples, stomach contents of laboratory-raised fish as well as fish from the subtropical gyres were analyzed by Raman micro-spectroscopy (RMS) to identify polymer residues and any detectable persistent organic pollutants (POP). The goal was to access specific molecular information at the individual particle level in order to identify polymer debris in the natural environment. The identification process was aided by a laboratory generated automated fluorescence removal algorithm. Pacific Ocean trawl samples of plastic debris associated with fish collection sites were analyzed to determine the types of polymers commonly present. Subsequently, stomach contents of fish from these locations were analyzed for ingested polymer debris. Extraction of polymer debris from fish stomach using KOH versus ultrapure water were evaluated to determine the optimal method of extraction. Pulsed ultrasonic extraction in ultrapure water was determined to be the method of choice for extraction with minimal chemical intrusion. The Pacific Ocean trawl samples yielded primarily polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) particles >1 mm, PE being the most prevalent type. Additional microplastic residues (1 mm – 10 μm) extracted by filtration, included a polystyrene (PS) particle in addition to PE and PP. Flame retardant, deca-BDE was tentatively identified on some of the PP trawl particles. Polymer residues were also extracted from the stomachs of Atlantic and Pacific Ocean fish. Two types of polymer related debris were identified in the Atlantic Ocean fish: (1) polymer fragments and (2) fragments with combined polymer and fatty acid signatures. In terms of polymer fragments, only PE and PP were detected in the fish stomachs from both locations. A variety of particles were extracted from oceanic fish as potential plastic pieces based on optical examination. However, subsequent RMS examination identified them as various non-plastic fragments, highlighting the importance of chemical analysis in distinguishing between polymer and non-polymer residues.

Sutapa Ghosal, Michael Chen, Jeff Wagner, Zhong-Min Wang, Stephen Wall, Environmental Pollution, Available online 13 October 2017, In Press

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Persistent organic pollutants in selected fishes of the Gulf of Finland

Fish samples of Baltic herring, sprat, flounder, perch, salmon, and river lamprey were collected from the Gulf of Finland in 2013 and 2014 with the aim to get an overview of the occurrence of pollutants in fish caught in Estonian waters. The content of non-dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (ndl PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), organic tin (OT) and perfluorocompounds (PFAS) are examined and discussed in the study. The results revealed that potentially higher content of organo-tin compounds, perfluorocompounds and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in Baltic herring, salmon and river lamprey may cause concern regarding human exposure.

It is important to link pollutant content to lipid content of fish taking into account their seasonal variation in different age classes.

Leili Järv, Hannu Kiviranta, Jani Koponen and al., Journal of Marine Systems, Volume 171, July 2017, Pages 129–133

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Microplastics as contaminants in commercially important seafood species

The ingestion of microplastic fragments, spheres, and fibers by marine mollusks, crustaceans, and fish, including a number of commercially important species, appears to be a widespread and pervasive phenomenon. Evidence is also growing for direct impacts of microplastic ingestion on physiology, reproductive success and survival of exposed marine organisms, and transfer through food webs, although the ecological implications are not yet known. Concerns also remain over the capacity for microplastics to act as vectors for harmful chemical pollutants, including plastic additives and persistent organic pollutants, although their contribution must be evaluated alongside other known sources. The potential for humans, as top predators, to consume microplastics as contaminants in seafood is very real, and its implications for health need to be considered. An urgent need also exists to extend the geographical scope of studies of microplastic contamination in seafood species to currently underrepresented areas, and to finalize and adopt standardized methods and quality-assurance protocols for the isolation, identification, and quantification of microplastic contaminants from biological tissues. Such developments would enable more robust investigation of spatial and temporal trends, thereby contributing further evidence as a sound basis for regulatory controls. Despite the existence of considerable uncertainties and unknowns, there is already a compelling case for urgent actions to identify, control, and, where possible, eliminate key sources of both primary and secondary microplastics before they reach the marine environment.

D. Santillo, K. Miller, P. Johnston, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, Volume 13, Number 3, pp. 516–521, May 2017

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Microplastics are not important for the cycling and bioaccumulation of organic pollutants in the oceans—but should microplastics be considered POPs themselves?

The role of microplastic particles in the cycling and bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is discussed. Five common concepts, sometimes misconceptions, about the role of microplastics are reviewed. While there is ample evidence that microplastics accumulate high concentrations of POPs, this does not result in microplastics being important for the global dispersion of POPs. Similarly, there is scant evidence that microplastics are an important transfer vector of POPs into animals, but possibly for plastic additives (flame retardants). Last, listing microplastics as POPs could help reduce their environmental impact.

R. Lohmann, Integrated Env. Assessment and Management, Volume 13, Issue 3, May 2017, Pages 460–465

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Distribution, potential sources and ecological risks of two persistent organic pollutants in the intertidal sediment at the Shuangtaizi Estuary, Bohai Sea of China

Spatial distribution, source apportionment, and potential ecological risks of sixteen polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and seven endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in the intertidal sediment at the Shuangtaizi Estuary, Bohai Sea of China were analyzed. Results showed that the total PAH concentrations ranged from 28.79 ng g− 1 dw to 281.97 ng g− 1 dw (mean: 115.92 ng g− 1 dw) and the total EDC concentrations from 0.52 ng g− 1 dw to 126.73 ng g− 1 dw (mean: 37.49 ng g− 1 dw). The distribution pattern for the PAHs was generally different from that of the EDCs possibly due to their distinct sources and n-octanol-/water partition coefficients (KOW). Qualitative and quantitative analytical results showed that PAH sources were mainly from a mixture of pyrogenic and petrogenic contributions. The higher levels at the southeast of Geligang indicated that the EDC pollutants may have mainly originated from the plastic industry and other chemical plants located along the Liao River. Ecological risk assessment revealed that PAHs exhibited low ecotoxicological effects, whereas EDCs, especially 4-tert-octylphenol and bisphenol A, had high ecological hazard to the estuarine biota.

Xiutang Yuan, Xiaolong Yang, Anguo Zhang, Xindong Ma, Hui Gao, Guangshui Na, Humin Zong, Guize Liu, Yongguang Sun, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 114, Issue 1, 15 January 2017, Pages 419–427

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Tracing the Biotransformation of PCBs and PBDEs in Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) Using Compound-Specific and Enantiomer-Specific Stable Carbon Isotope Analysis

Compound-specific and enantiomer-specific carbon isotope composition was investigated in terms of biotransformation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) as well as atropisomers of chiral PCB congeners in fish by exposing common carp (Cyprinus carpio) to certain PCB and PBDE congeners. The calculated carbon isotope enrichment factors (εC) for PCB 8, 18, and 45 were −1.99, −1.84, and −1.70‰, respectively, providing evidence of the metabolism of these congeners in fish. The stable carbon isotopic compositions of PBDE congeners clearly reflect the debromination of PBDEs in carp. Significant isotopic fractionation was also observed during the debromination process of BDE 153 (εC = −0.86‰). Stereoselective elimination of chiral PCB congeners 45, 91, and 95 was observed, indicating a stereoselective biotransformation process. The similar εC values for E1-PCB 45 (−1.63‰) and E2-PCB 45 (−1.74‰) indicated that both atropisomers were metabolized by the same reaction mechanisms and stereoselection did not occur at carbon bond cleavage. However, the εC values of (+)-PCB 91 (−1.5‰) and (−)-PCB 95 (−0.77‰) were significantly different from those of (−)-PCB 91 and (+)-PCB 95, respectively. In the latter, no significant isotopic fractionations were observed, indicating that the stereoselective elimination of PCB 91 and 95 could be caused by a different reaction mechanism in the two atropisomers.

Bin Tang, Xiao-Jun Luo, Yan-Hong Zeng, and Bi-Xian Mai, Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP, February 16, 2017

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