Dietary exposure of mink (Mustela vison) to fish from the upper Hudson River, New York, USA: Effects on reproduction and offspring growth and mortality



The effects of feeding farm-raised mink (Mustela vison) diets containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)–contaminated fish from the upper Hudson River (New York, USA) on adult reproductive performance and kit growth and mortality were evaluated. Diets contained 2.5 to 20% Hudson River fish, providing 0.72 to 6.1 µg ∑PCBs/g feed (4.8–38 pg toxic equivalents [TEQWHO 2005]/g feed). The percentage of stillborn kits per litter was significantly increased by dietary concentrations of 4.5 µg ∑PCBs/g feed (28 pg TEQWHO 2005/g feed) and greater. All offspring exposed to dietary concentrations of 4.5 and 6.1 µg ∑PCBs/g feed (28 and 38 pg TEQWHO 2005/g feed) died by 10 weeks of age, and all offspring exposed to 1.5 and 2.8 µg ∑PCBs/g feed (10 and 18 pg TEQWHO 2005/g feed) died by 31 weeks of age, leaving juveniles in the control and 0.72 µg ∑PCBs/g feed (0.41- and 4.8 pg TEQWHO 2005/g feed) groups only. The dietary concentration predicted to result in 20% kit mortality (LC20) at six weeks of age was 0.34 µg ∑PCBs/g feed (2.6 pg TEQWHO 2005/g feed). The corresponding maternal hepatic concentration was 0.80 µg ∑PCBs/g liver, wet weight (13 pg TEQWHO 2005/g liver, wet wt). Mink residing in the upper Hudson River would be expected to consume species of fish that contain an average of 4.0 µg ∑PCBs/g tissue. Thus, a daily diet composed of less than 10% Hudson River fish could provide a dietary concentration of ∑PCBs that resulted in 20% kit mortality in the present study. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2013;32:780–793. © 2013 SETAC