Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 620–631

Contaminants in Ospreys from the Pacific Northwest: I. Trends and Patterns in Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-Dioxins and -Dibenzofurans in Eggs and Plasma


  • J. E.  Elliott
    • Canadian Wildlife Service, Pacific Wildlife Research Centre, 5421 Robertson Rd., RR1 Delta, British Columbia, Canada, V4K 3N2
  • M. M.  Machmer
    • Pandion Ecological Research Ltd., 705 Stanley St., Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, V1L 1N6
  • C. J.  Henny
    • USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA
  • L. K.  Wilson
    • Canadian Wildlife Service, Pacific Wildlife Research Centre, 5421 Robertson Rd., RR1 Delta, British Columbia, Canada, V4K 3N2
  • R. J.  Norstrom
    • Canadian Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Research Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0H3

DOI: 10.1007/s002449900424

Cite this article as:
Elliott, J., Machmer, M., Henny, C. et al. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. (1998) 35: 620. doi:10.1007/s002449900424


Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) eggs were collected from 1991 to 1997 at nests (n = 121) upstream and downstream of bleached kraft pulp mills and at reference sites in the Fraser and Columbia River drainage systems of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Blood samples were collected from nestling ospreys during the 1992 breeding season on the Thompson River. Samples were analyzed for polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and -dibenzofurans (PCDFs). Mean concentrations of 2,3,7,8-TCDD were significantly higher in eggs collected in 1991 at downstream compared to upstream nests near pulp mills at Kamloops and Castlegar, British Columbia. There were no significant temporal trends in 2,3,7,8-TCDD, -TCDF or other measured compounds at a sample of nests monitored between 1991 and 1994 downstream of the Castlegar pulp mill, despite changes in bleaching technology (CIO2 substitution). However, by 1997 concentrations of 2,3,7,8-TCDD and -TCDF were significantly lower than previous years in nests sampled downstream at both Castlegar and Kamloops. An unusual pattern of higher chlorinated PCDDs and PCDFs was found in many of the osprey eggs collected in this study, and considerable individual variation in the pattern existed among eggs from the same site. For example, eggs from four different nests at one study area (Quesnel) on the Fraser River had concentrations of 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDD ranging from <1 to 1,100 ng/kg and OCDD from <1 to 7,000 ng/kg wet weight. Higher mean concentrations of HpCDD and OCDD were found in eggs from the Thompson River, a tributary of the Fraser, compared to the Columbia River, and concentrations were generally higher at nests upstream of pulp mills. In plasma samples, 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDD and OCDD were the main compounds detected, with no significant differences measured between samples upstream versus downstream or earlier versus later in the breeding season. Use of chlorophenolic wood preservatives by lumber processors was considered the main source of higher chlorinated PCDD/Fs throughout the systems, based on patterns of trace PCDFs in eggs and significant correlations between egg concentrations of pentachlorophenol and both HpCDD (r = 0.891, p < 0.01) and OCDD (r = 0.870, p < 0.01).

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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1998