Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been measured in tissues of marine mammals since the mid 1960s (Holden and Marsden, 1967; Wolman and Wilson, 1970). These compounds include several pesticides (e.g., DDTs, chlordanes) and industrial chemicals (e.g., PCBs) that are ubiquitous, highly lipophilic and not readily degraded or metabolized. As a result, they can biomagnify to high levels in lipid- rich tissues of top-level marine predators. POPs enter marine waters via direct inputs (e.g., sewage outfalls, industrial and agricultural runoff) as well as from indirect sources (e.g., ocean currents) (Friedlander et al., 2005). Exposure to POPs in marine mammals has been linked to a number of biological effects including reproductive impairment (DeLong et al., 1973; Subramanian et al., 1987), reduced reproductive success (Wells et al., 2005), immune suppression (De Swart et al., 1994; Hammond et al., 2005; Ross et al., 1995) and endocrine disruption (reviewed in O’Hara and O’Shea (2001)). Although many POPs, such as PCBs and DDTs, have been banned for production or use in the US for more than thirty years, some of these compounds are still used in other regions of the world (Fielder, 2008; van den Berk, 2009) and continue to be measured in the tissues of marine mammals throughout coastal regions of the US.
Ylitalo, G.M., R.W. Baird, G.K. Yanagida, D.L. Webster, S.J. Chivers, J.L. Bolton, G.S. Schorr, and D.J. McSweeney. 2009. High Levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants Measured in Blubber of Island-Associated False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens) Around the Main Hawaiian Islands. Marine Pollution Bulletin 58(12): 1932-1937. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.08.029Download PDF
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