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Spatial and temporal trends of persistent organic pollutants and mercury in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from Alaska



Jennifer Trevillian, Jessica L. Reiner, Jennifer M. Lynch, John R. Kucklick, Colleen E. Bryan Sallee, Amanda J. Moors, Rebecca S. Pugh, Paul R. Becker


Remote locations, such as the Arctic, are often sinks for persistent contaminants which can ultimately bioaccumulate in local wildlife. Assessing temporal contaminant trends in the Arctic is important in understanding whether restrictions on legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have led to concentration declines. Beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) tissue samples were collected from two subpopulations (Cook Inlet, Alaska and the eastern Chukchi Sea) between 1989 and 2006. Several POPs (i.e., polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane and related compounds (DDTs), chlordanes, hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs), pentachlorobenzene, mirex, heptachlor epoxide, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)) were measured in blubber from 70 individual animals and mercury (Hg) was measured in liver from 68 of those individuals. Legacy POPs (PCBs, chlordanes, DDTs, and HCHs) were the predominant organic compound classes in both subpopulations, with overall median concentrations of 2190 ng/g lipid and 1830 ng/g lipid for PCBs (sum of 80 congeners) and DDTs (sum of 6 DDT-related compounds), respectively. PCBs, DDTs, chlordanes, pentachlorobenzene, heptachlor epoxide, and Hg were significantly (p
Science of the Total Environment


Persistent organic contaminants, Arctic, Alaska, Beluga whale, Temporal trends
Created January 24, 2013, Updated January 27, 2020