Research Document - 2013/120

Temporal trends of PBDEs in adult and newborn beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) from the St. Lawrence Estuary

By Michel Lebeuf, Meriem Raach, Lena Measures, Nadia Ménard and Mike Hammill

Abstract

In the 2008-2012 time period an unusually high number of stranded newborn beluga was recorded in the St. Lawrence Estuary (SLE). Blubber concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in adult female beluga were not significantly different in 2008-2012 compared to the previous 10 years. Similarly, PBDE concentrations in stranded newborns in 2008-2012 were not significantly different than in previous time periods, 1995-2001 and 2002-2007, indicating no temporal trend. During the period 1995-2012, highest PBDE concentrations ever measured in adult females and in newborns were observed. Similar concentrations of PBDEs in adult females and newborns indicated that the transfer of PBDEs from mother to newborn was very efficient. PBDEs are known to have various endocrine disrupting effects on mammals including reproduction and development in offspring. However, direct and indirect association between the harmful effects of PBDE and the recent elevated frequency of complications at parturition and mortalities of newborns in stranded SLE beluga need further investigation.

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