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Toxaphene and other persistent organochlorine pesticides in three species of albatrosses from the north and south Pacific Ocean

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Abstract

Toxaphene and other persistent organochlorine (OC) pesticides (chlordane-related compounds [ΣCHL], DDT-related compounds [ΣDDT], hexachlorocyclohexanes [ΣHCH], tris(p-chloro-phenyl)methane, hexachlorobenzene, octachlorostyrene, dieldrin) were determined in fat of Laysan albatross (Diomedea immutabilis) and in fat and eggs of blackfooted albatross (Diomedea nigripes) from the central north Pacific Ocean. The HCH isomers and chlordane- and DDT-related compounds were also determined in eggs of northern royal albatross (Diomedea sanfordi) collected in New Zealand. Toxaphene was detected in fat samples at mean ± standard deviation (SD) levels ranging from 243 ± 61 ng/g wet weight in Laysan albatross to 1,020 ± 237 ng/g wet weight in blackfooted albatross. These levels were higher than ΣCHL and ΣHCH but lower than ΣDDT. In eggs of blackfooted albatross, toxaphene was the major OC pesticide, averaging 513 ng/g wet weight in two pooled samples compared with 293 ng/g wet weight for ΣDDT. Two toxaphene congeners, the octachloroborane B8–1413 (Parlar 26) and the nonachlorobornane B9–1679 (P50), comprised about 38% of total toxaphene in both albatross species. All OC compounds were present at significantly higher levels in blackfooted than Laysan albatross fat with the exception of ΣHCH, dieldrin, and octachlorostyrene. Mean levels of ΣDDT and ΣHCH in northern royal albatross eggs from New Zealand were 4 and 60 times lower, respectively, than in blackfooted albatross eggs. The pattern of OC pesticide accumulation was consistent with differences in distribution of the three species in the Pacific Ocean, with highest levels in blackfooted albatross, which feed off the west coast of North America, intermediate levels in Laysan albatross, which frequent the western Pacific, and lowest levels in northern royal albatross, which are confined to the southern oceans surrounding the Antarctic.

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