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Keywords:

  • Bioaccumulation;
  • Cetaceans;
  • Enantiomer fractions;
  • Organochlorines;
  • Pinnipeds

Abstract

Concentrations of achiral and chiral organochlorine contaminants (OCs), including hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCH), chlordane congeners (cis- and trans-chlordane, cis- and trans-nonachlor, MC5, MC7, and U82), and related metabolites (oxychlordane [OXY] and heptachlor exo-epoxide [HEPX]), were quantified in seawater (100 L; n = 6) and biota from the coastal Beaufort–Chukchi Seas food web near Barrow (AK, USA). The biota included zooplankton (Calanus spp.; n = 5), fish species such as arctic cod (Boreogadus saida; n = 10), arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus; n = 3), and marine mammals including bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus; liver: n = 23; blubber: n = 40), beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas; blubber: n = 20), ringed seals (Phoca hispida; blubber: n = 20), and bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus; blubber: n = 7). The food web magnification factors (FWMFs) for HCHs and chlordane compounds ranged from 0.5 (γ-HCH) to 6.5 (HEPX) and were expected based on known recalcitrance and biotransformation of OCs. The enantiomer fractions (EFs) of all chiral OCs were near racemic (EF = 0.50) in seawater, zooplankton, and all fish analyzed. In contrast, the EFs for most OCs analyzed were nonracemic (EF ≠ 0.50) in the marine mammals blubber (range: 0.09–0.79) because of enantiomer-specific biotransformation and (or) accumulation. However, EF values were not significantly correlated with isotopically determined trophic level. The EFs for all chiral OCs (except α-HCH) in bowhead whale liver closely approximated the values in zooplankton, suggesting that the accumulation of chiral OCs from prey into this cetacean is not enantiomer specific. However, the modification of EFs from bowhead liver to blubber suggests that this species has the ability to enantioselectively biotransform and accumulate several chiral OC compounds.