Dietary exposure of mink to carp from Saginaw Bay, Michigan. 1. Effects on reproduction and survival, and the potential risks to wild mink populations

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Carp (Cyprinus carpio) collected from Saginaw Bay, Michigan, containing 8.4 mg total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)/kg and 194 ng of 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-dibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TEQs)/kg, were substituted for marine fish at levels of 0, 10, 20, or 40% in the diets of adult ranch mink (Mustela vison). The diets, containing 0.015, 0.72, 1.53, and 2.56 mg PCBs/kg diet, or 1.03, 19.41, 40.02, and 80.76 ng TEQs/kg diet, respectively, were fed to mink prior to and throughout the reproductive period to evaluate the effects of a naturally-contaminated prey species on their survival and reproductive performance. The total quantities of PCBs ingested by the mink fed 0, 10, 20, or 40% carp over the 85-day treatment period were 0.34, 13.2, 25.3, and 32.3 mg PCBs/mink, respectively. The corresponding quantities of TEQs ingested by the mink over the same treatment period were 23, 356, 661, and 1,019 ng TEQs/mink, respectively. Consumption of feed by mink was inversely proportional to the PCB and TEQ content of the diet. The diets containing Saginaw Bay carp caused impaired reproduction and/or reduced survival of the kits. Compared to controls, body weights of kits at birth were significantly reduced in the 20 and 40% carp groups, and kit body weights and survival in the 10 and 20% carp groups were significantly reduced at three and six weeks of age. The females fed 40% carp whelped the fewest number of kits, all of which were stillborn or died within 24 hours. Lowest observable adverse effect levels (LOAEL) of 0.134 mg PCBs/kg body weight/day or 3.6 ng TEQs/kg body weight/day for adult female mink were determined. The potential effects of exposure of wild mink to contaminated Great Lakes fish were assessed by calculating “maximum allowable daily intakes” and “hazard indices” based on total concentrations of PCB residues in several species of Great Lakes fish and mink toxicity data derived from the study.