Time Trends of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in Antarctic Biota

Erin Markham, Emily K. Brault, Mohammed Khairy, Anna R. Robuck, Michael E. Goebel, Mark G. Cantwell, Rebecca M. Dickhut, Rainer Lohmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are "emerged" contaminants that were produced and used as flame retardants in numerous consumer and industrial applications for decades until banned. They remain ubiquitously present in the environment today. Here, a unique set of >200 biotic samples from the Antarctic was analyzed for PBDEs, including phytoplankton, krill, fish, and fur seal milk, spanning several sampling seasons over 14 years. PBDE-47 and -99 were the dominant congeners determined in all samples, constituting >60% of total PBDEs. A temporal trend was observed for -7PBDE concentrations in fur seal milk, where concentrations significantly increased (R2 = 0.57, p < 0.05) over time (2000-2014). Results for krill and phytoplankton also suggested increasing PBDE concentrations over time. Trends of PBDEs in fur seal milk of individual seals sampled 1 or more years apart showed no clear temporal trends. Overall, there was no indication of PBDEs decreasing in Antarctic biota yet, whereas numerous studies have reported decreasing trends in the northern hemisphere. Similar PBDE concentrations in perinatal versus nonperinatal milk implied the importance of local PBDE sources for bioaccumulation. These results indicate the need for continued assessment of contaminant trends, such as PBDEs, and their replacements, in Antarctica.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6595-6604
Number of pages10
JournalACS Omega
Issue number6
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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