• Brominated flame retardants;
  • Bioaccumulation;
  • Trophic transfer;
  • Biomagnification


The extent of bioaccumulation and trophic transfer of brominated diphenyl ether (BDE) congeners, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) diastereoisomers (α, β, and γ), decabromodiphenylethane (DBDPE), and bis(2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE) was examined in a Lake Winnipeg (Canada) food web. Six species of fish, zooplankton, mussels, sediment, and water from the south basin of the lake were selected for study. Significant positive correlations were found between concentrations of total (Σ) polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs; p < 0.005), ΣHBCDs (p < 0.0001), BTBPE (p < 0.0001), and lipid content in fish. Strong positive linear relationships also were observed from individual plots of BDE 47, BDE 209, and DBDPE concentrations (lipid wt) and trophic level (based on δ15N), suggesting that these compounds biomagnify in the Lake Winnipeg food web. Biomagnification factors varied for the chemicals studied. Plots of log bioaccumulation factors for mussel and zooplankton versus log octanol–water partition coefficient (Kow) were similar and suggest that neither mussels nor zooplankton are in equilibrium with the water. Fifteen BDE congeners were consistently detected in water (dissolved phase, n = 3), with BDE 47 having the greatest concentration (17 pg/L). The rank order of compounds in water (arithmetic mean ± standard error) were ΣPBDEs (49 ± 12 pg/L) > α-HBCD (11 ± 2 pg/L) > BTBPE (1.9 ± 0.6 pg/L). Concentrations of DPDPE, BDE 209, and β- and γ-HBCD isomers were below their respective method detection limits (MDLs) in water. Total PBDE concentrations in sediment (n = 4) were greater than any other brominated flame retardant examined in the present study and ranged from 1,160 to 1,610 ng/g (dry wt), with BDE 209 contributing roughly 50% of the total. The γ-HBCD isomer was detected at concentrations of 50 ± 20 pg/g (dry wt) in sediment, whereas BTBPE and DBDPE were consistently below their respective MDLs in sediment.