NEW Study Tracks Toxic BFR Replacement Chemicals in Marine Food Web
MERI is requesting pinniped tissues from the NMFS Northeast Region Stranding Network for a new research initiative, Emerging Contaminants in the Northwest Atlantic Marine Food Web, that we are conducting as part of the long-term Seals As Sentinels project. We invite all Northeast Region Stranding Network members to participate in this region-wide study, beginning with sample collection during the spring-summer stranding season 2010. This project will analyze a broad range of novel contaminants in tissues of 40 harbor seals from the northwest Atlantic and their major prey fish.
MERI requests tissue samples (postmortem) from stranded pinnipeds in the Gulf of Maine and mid-Atlantic region for contaminant analysis. The specific request is for liver and blubber samples from non-emaciated harbor seals that stranded between 2000 and the present. In particular, we are in need of samples from seals that stranded within the last few years (2007 – present). Samples must be from fresh dead animals (Condition Code 2) and ideally should be ~100g (10g minimum). Detailed sampling protocols are available on request. Level A documentation must be included with the samples.
As in the past, all Network participants will receive contaminants data on the animals they provide for the study. MERI staff can assist with sample collection by helping with necropsies, sample packing or inventory if needed. To facilitate sample transport, MERI staff will pick up samples in person or provide shipping containers and cover shipping costs. Please confirm by March 1 whether you are interested in participating in this project. Contact:
Michelle Berger, Senior Research Assistant
Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI)
PO Box 1652, Blue Hill, ME 04614
About the Seals As Sentinels Project 2000-2010
MERI’s long-term project Seals As Sentinels: Assessing Toxic Contaminants in Northwest Atlantic Coast Seals is the first long-term regional investigation to documents levels, trends, and sources of priority pollutants in the northwest Atlantic marine ecosystem. Since 2001, the project has analyzed some 400 toxic chemicals in nearly 500 tissues of marine top predator species – marine mammals and commercially important fish stocks (herring, red-white-silver hake, mackerel, flounder, plaice, alewife). Results to date indicate that this marine ecosystem is extensively contaminated by persistent organic pollutants, including legacy (banned) compounds (e.g., PCBs, DDT), and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) which have been restricted more recently. These findings have closed data gaps, enabling regulatory actions to protect marine species and people exposed to man-made contaminants through the ocean food web.
Recent data generated by Seals as Sentinels have influenced important policy decisions, including the Maine legislature’s 2007 decision to ban the neurotoxic flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca) from foam mattresses, baby products, and children’s toys. However, large reservoirs of BFRs exist in consumer products (foam mattresses, plastics, computers, TVs), and hundreds of other unregulated chemicals are leaching into our coastal waters. The oceans are the ultimate sink for BFRs and other persistent organic chemicals, and this research is urgently needed to reveal the identity, sources, persistence, and toxic properties of emerging contaminants in the marine ecosystem.
Publications Resulting from the Seals As Sentinels Project
This project has resulted in numerous peer-reviewed articles, web-available reports, and
presentations at national and international conferences. Copies (pdfs) of peer-reviewed articles are available by request. For reports and project summaries, visit the Seals As Sentinels Page on MERI's website www.meriresearch.org.
Shaw SD. Seals as Sentinels: Assessing Toxic Contaminants in Northwestern Atlantic Coast Seals. Final Project Report to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Marine Environmental Research Institute, Blue Hill, ME, 2005.
Shaw SD. Seals as Sentinels: Assessing Toxic Contaminants in Northwestern Atlantic Coast Seals. Final Project Report to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Marine Environmental Research Institute, Blue Hill, ME, 2006.
Shaw SD, Brenner D, Mahaffey CA, De Guise S, Perkins CR, Clark GC, Denison MS, Waring GT. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and immune function in US Atlantic coast harbor seals (Phoca vitulina concolor). Organohalogen Compounds 2003; 62: 220-223.
Shaw SD, Brenner D, Bourakovsky A, Mahaffey CA, and Perkins CR. 2005. Polychlorinated biphenyls and chlorinated pesticides in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) from the northwestern Atlantic coast. Marine Pollution Bulletin 50:1069-1084.
Shaw SD, Berger ML, Brenner D, Fang F, Hong C-S, Storm R, and O'Keefe P. 2006a. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) from the northwestern Atlantic. Organohalogen Compounds 68:600-603.
Shaw SD, Berger ML, Brenner D, and Kannan K. 2006b. Perfluorooctane sulfonate and related perfluorinated hydrocarbons in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) from the northwest Atlantic. Organohalogen Compounds 68:2042-2046.
Shaw SD, Berger ML, Brenner D, Chu MD, Matherly CK, Chu AC, and Clark GC. 2006c. Application the CALUX bioassay for the determination of PCDD/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs in tissues of harbor seals. Organohalogen Compounds 68:587-591.
Shaw SD, Brenner D, Berger ML, Dwyer M, Fang F, Hong C-S, Storm R, and O'Keefe P. 2007a. Patterns and trends of PCBs and PCDD/Fs in northwestern Atlantic harbor seals: Revisiting threshold levels using the new TEFs. Organohalogen Compounds 69:1752-1756.
Shaw SD, Brenner D, Berger ML, Fang F, Hong C-S, Storm R, Hilker D, O'Keefe P. 2007b. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in harbor seals from the northwestern Atlantic: Are seals debrominating DecaBDE? Organohalogen Compounds 69:829-832.
Shaw SD, Brenner D, Berger ML, Fang F, Hong C-S, Addink R, Hilker D. Bioaccumulation of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in harbor seals from the northwest Atlantic. Chemosphere 2008; 73: 1773-1780.
Shaw SD, Berger ML, Brenner D, Tao L, Wu Q, Kannan K. Specific accumulation of perfluorochemicals in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) from the northwest Atlantic. Chemosphere 2009a; 74: 1037–1043.
Shaw SD, Berger ML, Brenner D, Kannan K, Lohmann N, Päpke O. Bioaccumulation of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecane in the northwest Atlantic marine food web. Science of the Total Environment 2009b; 407: 3323–3329.
Shaw SD and Kannan K. 2009. PBDEs in the Marine Ecosystems of the American Continents: Foresight from Current Knowledge. Reviews on Environmental Health Vol. 24(3) 2009: 157-229.