Comparing Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether and Polychlorinated Biphenyl Bioaccumulation in a Food Web in Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan

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Abstract

Levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs) in Great Lakes salmonids and ambient air have been recently reported, but few studies worldwide have examined the accumulation of BDEs within aquatic food webs. Here we report some of the first measurements of six BDE congeners that are common components of the pentaBDE commercial mixture within an entire Lake Michigan food web. BDEs were detected in all samples and the dominant BDE congener was 2,2′,4,4′-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE 47). BDE 47 levels were consistently greater than those of the 2,2′,4,4′,5-pentabromodiphenyl ether (BDE 99), despite similar levels of these two compounds in commercial mixtures, suggesting differences in the bioavailability of the BDE congeners or differences in their ability to be metabolized. Additionally, congener composition was significantly different among deepwater sculpin, bloater chub, and lake trout, indicating differences in exposure or differences in biotransformation capacities. Total BDE concentrations in this food web were positively correlated (r = 0.94) with levels of PCBs previously measured in these samples (Stapleton et al. 2001a). Levels of BDE 47 and PCB 153, compounds with similar physicochemical properties, were compared to examine the relative exposure and bioaccumulation of these two classes of chemicals that have different environmental loading histories. Food web magnification factors calculated for these two congeners were 3.2 and 4.0 for BDE 47 and PCB 153, respectively, indicating a comparable potential for biomagnification in food webs.