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Keywords:

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls;
  • Pesticides;
  • Mechanistic model;
  • Food web;
  • Polar regions

Abstract

Climate change is expected to alter environmental distribution of contaminants and their bioaccumulation due to changes in transport, partitioning, carbon pathways, and bioaccumulation process rates. Magnitude and direction of these changes and resulting overall bioaccumulation in food webs is currently not known. The present study investigates and quantifies the effect of climate change in terms of increased temperature and primary production (i.e., concentrations of particulate organic carbon, CPOC), on bioaccumulation of organic contaminants in biota at various trophic levels. The present study covers only parts of the contaminant behavior that is influenced by climate change, and it was assumed that there were no changes in food web structure and in total air and water concentrations of organic contaminants. Therefore, other climate change-induced effects on net bioaccumulation, such as altered contaminant transport and food web structure, should be addressed in future studies. To determine the effect of climate change, a bioaccumulation model was used on the pelagic marine food web of the Arctic, where climate change is expected to occur fastest and to the largest magnitude. The effect of climate change on model parameters and processes, and on net bioaccumulation, were quantified for three modeling substances (γ-hexachlorocyclohexane [HCH], polychlorinated biphenyl [PCB]-52, and PCB-153) for two possible climate scenarios. In conclusion, increased temperature and CPOC reduced the overall bioaccumulation of organic contaminants in the Arctic marine food web, with the largest change being for PCB-52 and PCB-153. Reduced bioavailability, due to increased CPOC, was the most influential parameter for the less water soluble compounds. Increase in temperature resulted in an overall reduction in net bioaccumulation. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:1349–1357. © 2010 SETAC