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Perfluoroalkyl contaminants in plasma of five sea turtle species: Comparisons in concentration and potential health risks

Keller, Jennifer M., Ngai, Lily, McNeill, Joanne Braun, Wood, Lawrence D., Stewart, Kelly R., O'Connell, Steven G., Kucklick, John R.
Environmental toxicology and chemistry 2012 v.31 no.6 pp. 1223-1230
Caretta caretta, adverse effects, blood plasma, blood sampling, green leafy vegetables, laboratory animals, liquid chromatography, liver, margin of safety, mass spectrometry, perfluorocarbons, risk, sea turtles, species differences, threatened species, toxicity, trophic relationships
The authors compared blood plasma concentrations of 13 perfluoroalkyl contaminants (PFCs) in five sea turtle species with differing trophic levels. Wild sea turtles were blood sampled from the southeastern region of the United States, and plasma was analyzed using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Mean concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), the predominant PFC, increased with trophic level from herbivorous greens (2.41 ng/g), jellyfish‐eating leatherbacks (3.95 ng/g), omnivorous loggerheads (6.47 ng/g), to crab‐eating Kemp's ridleys (15.7 ng/g). However, spongivorous hawksbills had surprisingly high concentrations of PFOS (11.9 ng/g) and other PFCs based on their trophic level. These baseline concentrations of biomagnifying PFCs demonstrate interesting species and geographical differences. The measured PFOS concentrations were compared with concentrations known to cause toxic effects in laboratory animals, and estimated margins of safety (EMOS) were calculated. Small EMOS (<100), suggestive of potential risk of adverse health effects, were observed for all five sea turtle species for immunosuppression. Estimated margins of safety less than 100 were also observed for liver, thyroid, and neurobehavorial effects for the more highly exposed species. These baseline concentrations and the preliminary EMOS exercise provide a better understanding of the potential health risks of PFCs for conservation managers to protect these threatened and endangered species. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:1223–1230. © 2012 SETAC