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A Review of Organotin Contamination in Arctic and Subarctic Regions



John Kucklick, MIchael Ellisor


Organotin (OT) compounds are of continued arctic concern as they still widely used despite the most well-studied OT, tributyl tin (TBT), being restricted for use on marine vessels to prevent fouling by marine organisms. The highest OT concentrations found in artic fauna are in regions associated with human activity especially shipping. There is an overall trend of declining butyl tin (BT) concentrations in artic fauna especially molluscs which are the subject of a limited number of long-term monitoring studies. The incidence of imposex has likewise generally declined in molluscs in response to declining TBT concentrations. There are a number of knowledge gaps in OT occurrence and transport in the Arctic that warrant continued monitoring. OTs, in particular octyl tins, are heavily used in the production of plastic, hence leaching from plastic may be an unrecognized source to artic regions. This review also found several studies reporting volatile tin species in the atmosphere suggesting atmospheric transport of volatile tins to the Arctic is possible. Relative to other more well know persistent organic pollutants, there are few reports of OTs in marine mammals and temporal tend studies are needed to define trends in BTs and search for the occurrence of other tin species.
Emerging Contaminants


arctic, organotin, air, marine mammal, sediment, water


Kucklick, J. and Ellisor, M. (2019), A Review of Organotin Contamination in Arctic and Subarctic Regions, Emerging Contaminants, [online], (Accessed June 17, 2024)


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Created May 17, 2019, Updated August 15, 2022