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Legacy Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) Trends in Top Predator Fish of the Laurentian Great Lakes (GL) from 1979 to 2016: Will Concentrations Continue to Decrease?

Zhou, Chuanlong, Pagano, James, McGoldrick, Daryl J., Chen, Da, Crimmins, Bernard S., Hopke, Philip K., Milligan, Michael S., Murphy, Elizabeth W., Holsen, Thomas M.
Environmental science & technology 2019 v.53 no.12 pp. 6650-6659
Salvelinus namaycush, bioaccumulation, bromination, ecosystems, fish, flame retardants, food webs, lakes, monitoring, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, sediments, Canada, Lake Erie, United States
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were widely used as fire retardants and have been detected throughout the Great Lakes (GL) ecosystem. The concentration trends (after fish age normalization) of PBDEs in top predator fish (lake trout and walleye) of the GLs were determined from 1979 to 2016, which includes most of the period when PBDEs were manufactured and used in this region. The fish samples were collected by two national (U.S. and Canada) long-term monitoring and surveillance programs. Trends in total concentrations (age-normalized) of the five major PBDE congeners (BDE-47, 99, 100, 153, and 154) found in fish across all five lakes have varied over time. Significant increases were observed from 1990 to 2000 (16.3% per year). Rapidly decreasing concentrations (−19.5% per year) were found from 2000 to 2007. Since 2007, the decreasing trend has become smaller (less than −5.5% per year) and relatively unchanged from 2011 to 2015. BDE-47, the congener with the highest concentrations in lake trout, has decreased continuously (ranging from −6.7% to −16.2% per year) in all lakes except Lake Erie. This decrease can be associated with the voluntary and regulatory phase out of production and/or usage of PBDEs since 2000. However, it has been offset by recent (since 2007) increasing trends of the other four higher brominated BDE congeners, especially BDE-100 and 154. Production and usage of commercial penta- and octa- BDE mixtures containing primarily the five major PBDE congeners was discontinued in 2004 in the U.S.A. and 2008 in Canada. These results indicate increasing fish uptake and bioaccumulation of higher brominated BDE congeners may be related to the transformation of BDE-209 to lower brominated BDE compounds in the GL environment or food web. Considering the abundance of BDE-209 in existing products and sediment in GL region, the duration of the unchanging total PBDE concentration trend in GL fish could be longer than expected.