Geographic variation of PCB congeners in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from Svalbard east to the Chukchi Sea
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We present data on geographic variation in polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners in adult female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from Svalbard eastward to the Chukchi Sea. Blood samples from 90 free-living polar bears were collected in 1987–1995. Six PCB congeners, penta to octa chlorinated (PCB-99, -118, -153, -156, -180, -194), were selected for this study. Differences between areas were found in PCB levels and congener patterns. Bears from Franz Josef Land (11,194 ng/g lipid weight) and the Kara Sea (9,412 ng/g lw) had similar ΣPCB levels and were higher than all other populations (Svalbard 5,043 ng/g lw, East Siberian Sea 3,564 ng/g lw, Chukchi Sea 2,465 ng/g lw). Svalbard PCB levels were higher than those from the Chukchi Sea. Our results, combined with earlier findings, indicate that polar bears from Franz Josef Land and the Kara Sea have the highest PCB levels in the Arctic. Decreasing trends were seen eastwards and westwards from this region. Of the congeners investigated in the present study, the lower chlorinated PCBs are increasing and the high chlorinated PCBs are decreasing from Svalbard eastward to the Chukchi Sea. Different pollution sources, compound transport patterns and regional prey differences could explain the variation in PCB congener levels and patterns between regions.
KeywordsPCBs Polar Bear Ringed Seal Bearded Seal Congener Pattern
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