The AMAP Marine Thematic Data Centre holds marine contaminants data for monitoring and assessment. The database is hosted by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), Copenhagen, Denmark, and are accessible through their online EcoSystemData warehouse.
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Objectives were to measure a suite of organochlorine contaminants in tissues of Arctic fox collected on the Pribilof Islands for comparison to similar measurements in Arctic fox from other locations for the AMAP assessment.
1. Sediment study for heavy metals and selected organic contaminants. 2. Analysis of benthic organisms for heavy metals and selected organic contaminants. 3. Study of suspended sediment distribution, composition and sources. 4. Determination of partitioning of heavy metals between dissolved and particulate phases.
I. Objectives: I.1. To determine the normal range of values (natural variability due to time of year, age, gender) for basic nutritional and health parameters (blubber characteristics, essential and non-essential elements, structure of basic tissues) in the bowhead whale. a. Blubber thickness (depth and girth), chemical composition (lipids, water, calories), and tissue structure (light microscopy and special stains) will be assessed. b. Essential and non-essential elements (heavy metals) will be measured in liver and kidney. c. Tissue structure (light microscopy) characteristics obviously related to nutritional status in liver (glycogen, lipid and lipofuscin stores), pancreas (zymogen granules), and intestine (mucosal microvilli) and any evidence of inactivity/atrophy will be examined. d. Documentation of "normal" structure of basic tissues and evaluation for evidence of disease will also be conducted. I.2. Using data from Objective 1 to identify the parameters most important in assaying the health status of other mysticetes residing in the Bering Sea or Western Arctic that are harvested or stranded. I.3. Using data from Objective 1 to help determine the role of the bowhead whale as an indicator of ecosystem health and development of an optimized protocol for assessing mysticete health for the Bering Sea and Western Arctic, and other regions.
1. Research area # 2 in the 1998/99 Announcement of Opportunity by CIFAR, "Study of anthropogenic influences on the Western Arctic/Bering Sea Ecosystem", and 2. Research area #4 in the 1998/99 Announcement of Opportunity by CIFAR, "Contaminant inputs, fate and effects on the ecosystem" specifically addressing objectives a-c, except "effects." a. "Determine pathways/linkages of contaminant accumulation in species that are consumed by top predators, including humans, and determine sub-regional differences in contaminant levels..." b. "Use an ecosystems approach to determine the effects of contaminants on food web and biomagnification." c. "Encourage local community participation in planning and implementing research strategies." The objectives of Phase I, Human Ecology Research are to: 1. Document reliance by indigenous arctic marine communities in Canada, Alaska and Russia on arctic resources at risk from chemical pollutants; and, 2. Incorporate traditional knowledge systems of subsistence harvesting. The human ecology components of the project were conducted within the frameworks of indigenous environmental knowledge and community participation. Using participatory mapping techniques, semi-structured interviews and the direct participation of community members in research design, data collection and implementation, research and data collection on the human ecology of indigenous arctic marine communities was undertaken in the communities of Holman, NWT (1998), Wainwright, Alaska (1999), and is underway in Novoe Chaplino, Russia. (2000).
The first part of the present study evaluated tissue concentrations of twelve essential and non-essential elements in four arctic marine mammal species important as subsistence resources to indigenous Alaskans. Species sampled included: bowhead whales, beluga whales, ringed seals, and polar bears. Concentrations of As, Cd, Co, Cu, Pb, Mg, Mn, Hg, Mo, Se, Ag, and Zn, were analyzed in liver, kidney, muscle, blubber, and epidermis (the latter in cetaceans only). Elements that were identified as having tissue concentrations, which in domesticated species would have been considered higher than normal and/or even toxic, were Cd, Hg, Ag, and Se. However, the concentrations of these elements were consistent with previous reports for arctic marine mammals. Remaining elements were at concentrations within normal ranges for domesticated species, although Cu was found frequently at concentrations that would be considered marginal or deficient in terrestrial domesticated animals. Across-species comparisons revealed that Cd was highest in kidney, followed by liver in all four species. Its concentrations were frequently correlated with Cu, Zn, Hg, and Se. Cadmium accumulated with age in bowhead and beluga whales, especially in liver and kidney. The relationships between Cd and Hg, and between Cd and Se were believed to be due to mutual accretion with age, although direct interactions could not be ruled out, especially with respect to Cd and Se. Associations between Cd and Cu, and Cd and Zn were potentially attributable to mutual binding with the inducible protein, metallothionein. This assumption was supported by the observation that Cd:Zn ratios in liver and kidney displayed a significant linear relationship to age and that this ratio either increased slightly (in kidney and liver of bowheads) or remained constant (in kidney and liver of belugas) with age. In general, Se was highest in liver and kidney of all four species, where it was frequently at concentrations that would have been deemed elevated or toxic for domesticated species, although within ranges previously reported for arctic marine mammals. Selenium increased with age indices, and was highly correlated with Hg, and often with Cd as well. Mercury also increased with age, and liver contained the highest tissue concentration in the cetacean and pinniped species. The pattern of Se accumulation in polar bears differed, with highest concentrations found in kidney, which suggested that this tissue may be the primary site for Hg detoxification in this species, as is the case for terrestrial mammals. Compared to the other three species, bowhead whales had very low Hg concentrations in all tissues. The highly significant linear relationship between Hg and Se noted in various tissues (particularly liver) of all four species was presumed due to binding of these two elements to each other following demethylation of MHg. This assumption was supported by the observations that while Se and Hg both accumulated with age, the fraction of total Hg that was composed of MHg decreased with age. The quantity that represented the difference between total Hg measured directly and calculated total Hg [i.e., SHg = Hg(II) + MHg], also increased with age in beluga liver. This connoted that a portion of the total Hg present was in an organic form other than MHg, and that this form accumulated with age. Alternatively, this portion, which was apparently not measured by either the Hg(II) or MHg procedures, may have been lost during extraction. Species in this study had mean hepatic Hg:Se molar ratios that were below unity. This implies that Hg concentrations may have been below some threshold level, after which subsequent accumulation proceeds in a 1:1 molar ratio fashion with Se. Alternatively, it might suggest that a 1:1 Hg:Se molar ratio is not a prerequisite for protection from Hg toxcosis among marine mammals, because none of the animals in the present study exhibited lesions typically associated with Hg toxicosis. In beluga liver, concentrations of Ag were elevated when compared to domesticated species. The only element that showed a significant linear association to Ag was Cu—a relationship that was observed in all four species. This suggested that Ag and Cu may be associated through a common ligand, possibly metallothionein. The association between Ag and Se in beluga liver was less strong than that between Hg and Se; moreover, Ag did not increase with age. These findings indicate that Ag probably does not compete with Hg for Se binding, and therefore is unlikely to substantially inhibit detoxification of Hg in beluga whales. In the second portion of this research, tissues from bowhead whales, beluga whales and ringed seals were examined at both the gross and light microscopic level. The purpose of this evaluation was three-fold: to describe the normal histologic appearance of tissues; to perform a routine histologic survey of tissues that would contribute to a general health assessment, and; to scrutinize tissues for lesions that might support a diagnosis of toxicosis caused by Cd, Hg, Ag, or Se. Tissues examined were chosen on the basis of their propensity to be targets for toxicologic injury from the specified elements (with the exception of brain) and included, but were not limited to, the tissues analyzed chemically. Special stains were used to identify particular pigments or tissue components. Overall, the bowhead whales evaluated appeared healthy and had low parasite burdens. The most common lesion, which was observed in all bowheads, was a non-inflammatory chronic renal periglomerular and interstitial fibrosis. This lesion was not typical of Cd-induced nephropathy, and it did not appear to be associated with renal Cd burdens. Nevertheless, thresholds of Cd-induced renal injury are not known for cetacean species, and more whales need to be examined histologically in conjunction with analysis of tissue Cd residues. Acute myodegeneration was observed in cardiac and/or skeletal muscle of a few bowheads, and was presumed to reflect a hunting-induced exertional myopathy. The beluga whales examined were generally in good body condition and appeared healthy grossly, but they had much higher parasite burdens than bowhead whales. In particular, prevalence in belugas of pulmonary nematodiasis was high, being especially common among whales obtained from Pt. Hope compared to those from Pt. Lay. Grossly, firm, caseous nodules were associated with lungworms, while histologically, the associated pulmonary changes ranged from mild chronic inflammation and focal granuloma formation to catarrhal granulomatous and eosinophilic verminous bronchopneumonia. Another change observed in some belugas and believed to be associated with lungworm infection, was multifocal pulmonary arterial medial hypertrophy and degeneration. Beluga whales harvested at Pt. Lay (summer) frequently showed evidence of hepatic and pancreatic atrophy, while whales taken at Pt. Hope (spring) did not. This was believed to result from anorexia during migration—a supposition corroborated by the lack of stomach contents among Pt. Lay whales. Another prominent histologic finding among belugas was hepatic telangectasia, which occurred with significantly greater frequency and severity in Pt. Hope belugas than in those from Pt. Lay. The etiology and significance of this lesion could be not be ascertained, although it was not believed to be associated with any of the elements analyzed in this study. Mild thickening of Bowman’s capsule was seen frequently in belugas. However, this lesion was not typical of Hg or Cd-induced nephropathies, and did not appear correlated with kidney concentrations of these metals. This lesion was believed to be a normal consequence of aging in belugas, although a metal etiology for it could not be excluded irrefutably. In general, ringed seals were in good body condition and appeared healthy on gross examination. Among seals evaluated histologically, the most common finding was a mild, chronic, focal or periportal hepatitis, with focal hepatocellular necrosis sometimes apparent. Although a metal etiology for this lesion could not be definitively ruled out, in the absence of other lesions that would support a diagnosis of metal toxicosis, an infectious etiology was considered more credible. Two out of sixteen seals had embryologic remnants (an epidermoid cyst and an ultimobranchial cyst)—lesions that are usually considered incidental. While no toxic (metal or otherwise) etiology could be ascertained for these lesions, the incidence of retained embryologic remnants seemed high. A number of xenobiotics are known to be endocrine-disruptors, and the potential for such an etiology among these seals should be examined further. Lipofuscin deposition was ubiquitous among all three species examined histologically. Lipofuscin was most prevalent in hepatocytes, but also commonly was observed in various other tissue and cell types, especially in cardiac and skeletal myocytes, and in uriniferous tubular epithelial cells. The third portion of this study employed autometallographic (AMG) development of light microscopic tissue sections to amplify and localize deposition of inorganic Hg in liver and kidney of beluga and bowhead whales. No staining occurred among bowhead tissues, confirming the extremely low concentration of Hg determined through chemical analyses. In beluga kidney sections, AMG granules were seen throughout the uriniferous tubular epithelium, showing that Hg deposits throughout the nephric tubule, and not solely in the proximal tubular epithelium. In liver tissue, AMG granules were deposited primarily in periportal regions among whales with lower hepatic Hg burdens. In addition to periportal deposition, AMG granules were observed in pericentral and mid-zonal regions in the belugas sampled that had higher liver Hg concentrations (generally older animals). Granules were densely concentrated in stellate macrophages, especially near portal triads. Granules also were distributed in hepatocellular cytoplasm, generally concentrated toward the bile cannalicular domain of the cell. Granules were discrete, potentially indicating that Hg was confined within lysosomes. These observations suggested that inorganic Hg deposits initially in periportal regions of young animals, with subsequent accumulation occurring pericentrally, and finally, midzonally as the whales age. Computer-assisted densitometric analysis was used for semi-quantitative evaluation of AMG staining intensities. These AMG staining intensities were well correlated with concentrations of Hg determined via chemical analysis. Areas with AMG-staining were identified and compared with location of lipofuscin in the same field, visualized with fluorescent microscopy. While AMG granules and lipofuscin deposits sometimes were co-localized, they more often were not. In addition, abundant lipofuscin deposition was seen in livers of younger belugas with little to no Hg-catalyzed AMG staining. Also, lipofuscin concentrated predominantly in pericentral regions. These observations suggested that in the healthy marine mammals of this study, marked hepatic lipofuscin deposition most often occurred independently of Hg accumulation. Consequently, hepatic lipofuscin is likely to be a poor indicator of Hg-induced damage in belugas. The abundant lipofuscin deposition in livers of marine mammals was interpreted as most likely denoting a heightened exposure to oxidative stress that is probably inherent to a marine mammalian existence. These oxidative stressors may include a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), alternating hypoxia and abundant oxygenation, and periodic bouts of anorexia associated with migration.
Establish a benchmark to gauge the efficacy of legislation restricting the use of marine antifoulants containing TBT on the Pacific coast of the US
The present project includes one pilot study of wild adult glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) and one experimental study of glaucous gull chicks raised in captivity. The pilot study of adult gulls gave us enough blood and tissue samples to develop the methods needed for immune system analysis in the laboratory experiment. In the experimental study a total of 39 glaucous gull chicks were hatched and raised in captivity in Svalbard, Norway. The chicks were divided into two groups. One experimental group (20 chicks) was given food that mimicked the “natural” food found in the marine environment. The control group (19 chicks) was given “clean” food. After 56 days the chicks were sacrificed in order to collect samples for analyses of organochlorines (OCs) and immunocompetence measurements. The experimental group had 2.8, 3.9, 5.0, and 6.1 time’s higher concentrations of HCB, Oxychlordane, ?DDT, and ?PCB, respectively, compared to the control group at day 56. All chicks used in the experiment were immunised with various vaccines and sera in order to test their ability to respond against foreign antigens. The experimental chicks produced low levels of virus neutralising antibodies when tested against the herpes virus and reovirus. They produced higher levels of neutralising antibodies when tested to tetanus toxoid. There was, however, no difference between the experimental groups with regard to the mean antibody titres. The chicks in both groups also responded to the influenza virus by increasing the production of specific antibodies. However, the mean antibody titre in the exposed group was significantly lower than in the control group. The mitogen-induced response of blood lymphocytes to PHA and LPS was significantly higher in the exposed group compared to the control group. The specific response of blood lymphocytes to Con A, PWM, KLH, TET, and PPD was higher in the exposed group compared to the control group. However, do to high variance in the exposed group there was no significant difference between groups with regard to the lymphocyte response to these mitogens. The results from the present study indicate a toxic effect of OCs on the glaucous gull chicks, which induced a systematic activation of the immune system. Further work on data will be performed.
* Standarise the sampling methods from tissues and organs from arctic fox for organochlorine analyses * study the relationship between concentrations of organochlorines in blood samples and tissues * compare the levels of organochlorines in arctic foxes from Svalbard, Greenland and Russia
Surface samples collected around Svalbard in 1997 have been analysed for total content of heavy metals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and a selection of pesticides. Sample localities have been selected to include areas not covered by previous investigations. Based on the data set and results from previous expeditions in the area, contamination levels as well as potential sources for the pollutants are discussed. The PAH levels for most stations are moderately elevated with a high contribution of aromatic hydrocarbons associated with petrogenic sources. Hence the dominant sources for the PAHs is most likely derived from petroleum seepage and or coal mining. Long-range transport of aromatics associated with anthropogenic input is a minor component of the observed PAH levels. The highest concentration of PAH is found in Storfjorden with a value higher than the elevated concentrations earlier reported from the south-eastern Storfjorden and over the Central Bank. The concentration levels of the metals arsenic, lead, chromium and nickel were moderately elevated. Because of sparse information on the natural geomorphology, background metal concentrations are not known for this area. Hence, no quantitative comparison of natural and anthropogenic inputs for metals can be made. However, the most dominant source is assumed to be natural and related to the geological conditions in the area. All PCB levels were low, suggesting a dominant influence of long-range transport of these compounds to the area. Pesticide data showed low contamination of all compounds and suggests a predominant long-range atmospheric source for these pollutants.
Levels of selected contaminants have been determined in sediment, blue mussel, seeweed and fish from harbour areas in Harstad, Tromsø, Hammerfest and Honningsvåg in northern Norway. The following contaminants were included in the study: PAH, PCB, 5CB, HCB, OCS, HCH, DDT, DDE, DDD, TBT, Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, Zn and Li. A few samples were also analysed for dioxines (PCDD and PCDF), non-ortho PCBs and PCN. The results were compared with the Norwegian State Pollution Control Authorities classification system for marine sediments (Molvær et al. 1997). Elevated (and in most cases very high) levels of most of the measured contaminants were found in all the investigated harbour areas.
The aim of the project is to detrmine the content of organic contaminants in sea ice (including dirty ice), sea water (particulate and dissolved), snow, ice algae and phytoplankton collected in the marginal ice zone of the Barents Sea and in Fram Strait, and to calculate bioconcentration factors from the abiotic compartments to the lowest trophic levels of the food chain. Silicate measurements were included in the Fram Strait as water mass tracer. The Barents Sea represents an area influence mainly by first year ice with sea ice formed in the area and or in the Kara Sea, and and strongly influenced by the inflowing two branches of water of Atlantic origin. Samples were collected on a transect along the ice edge and at two transects into the ice. The stations across the Fram Strait were taken in regions affected by water masses and sea ice from differents regions and age. In the western sector, the upper water column was influenced by the inflowing west Spitsbergen current of Atlantic origin and mainly with first-second year ice, while the easter station was influenced by outflowing water from the Arctic Ocean and multiyear sea ice of more eastern origin.
The project aims to describe the environmental status of marine sediments in van Mijenfjorden. This to provide baseline data of contaminants and biodiversity, as well as for monitoring of eventual contamination from industrial activities (coal mining).
Investigation of benthic faunal communities for: taxon distribution/ biodiversity mapping; examination of effects of glacial and physical disturbance on community structure; relation between faunal structure and sediment contaminants.
The project aims to carry out an environmental assessment of the marine environment close to the three main settlements in the Isfjorden complex; Barentsburg, Longyearbyen and Pyramiden. The study comprises analyses of sediment geochemistry and soft-bottom benthic fauna. Attention is given to distinguishing atmospheric transport of contaminants from those arising from local sources.
Previous studies (Akvaplan-niva 1994 and 1996) on levels of POPs in limnic systems on Bear Island have shown that sediment and fish from a lake on the southern part of the island (Ellasjøen) have some of the highest levels of PCB and DDT that has been reported from Arctic areas. In a lake situated in the more central part of the island (Øyangen) levels are much lower, and in the same range as reported for lakes in Northern Norway and the Canadian Arctic. No local sources for contamination exist on Bear Island, and it is therefore likely that the contaminants are brought to the island with long-range atmospheric transport. The difference between the two investigated lakes on Bear Island may be due to differences in deposition of precipitation. This theory is currently being investigated through another project called: “Ellasjøen, Bear Island - A mass balance study of a high contaminated Arctic area." Another possible sources for contaminants to Ellasjøen can be the large colonies of seabirds that are situated close to the lake or use the lake for bathing. These seabirds may accumulate contaminants through their marine food chains and deposit guano in Ellasjøen and surrounding areas. Øyangen is much less influenced by seabirds than Ellasjøen. The aim of the present project is to map levels of selected persistent organic pollutants and study their biomagnification in freshwater and marine food chains at/near Bear Island. By linking the results from freshwater and marine food chains we aim to elucidate whether trophodynamics and interaction between marine and terrestrial food chains can be a natural mechanisms for biomagnification of POPs in specific geographic areas.
To clarify whether metals and/or POPs affect marine fish species - Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and plaice (Pleuronectes platessa)
To clarify whether effects of metals (Cd, Hg) affects biochemical markers (MT) in seal kidneys
The objectives of this study were to develop baseline data on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and metals, in freshwater and anadromous fish, shellfish, and marine mammals, important to Inuit communities of Northern Labrador and Nunavik in order to provide the same level of information that is available for other Canadian arctic regions. 1999-00 was the final year of the project. Successful collection of mussels (Mytilus edulis), arctic char (sea run), scallops and walrus samples were made in 1999. During 1998 major collections of ringed seal, sea run arctic char and blube mussels (Mytilus edulis) were made. Chemical analyses of POPs and metals in ringed seals and char collected in 1998-99 were completed in 1999-2000. Low concentrations of mercury, selenium and lead were found in samples of scallops from Labrador while cadmium and arsenic levels were much higher than the other elements, especially in gut samples. Arsenic was the most prominent of the five metals determined in mussels from Nunavik. Mercury levels were low (0.02-0.03 ug/g wet wt) in char from Labrador collected in 1999 similar to our previous observations in Labrador and Nunavik. Much higher levels of mercury and selenium were found in landlocked char (at Kangiqsujuaq) and than in all sea run char from widely separated sites Nunavik and Labrador. Mercury and selenium levels in seal liver did not differ among the 5 locations after adjustment for age of the animals. Percent organic mercury levels increased with age in seal muscle from about 80% in animals from 0-2 yrs to about 100% in adult animals. Mercury levels in walrus meat (muscle) were relatively low compared with liver and kidney. Levels of tributyl tin in char muscle ranged from <0.01 to 0.85 ng/g wet wt and highest levels were found in samples from Kangirsuk (Ungava Bay region). PCBs and other organochlorines were present at very low levels in mussels and arctic char from locations in Nunavik and Labrador. In general, levels of PCBs and SDDT in ringed seal blubber in this study were similar to levels found in ringed seal blubber at other eastern Arctic locations.
The major aim in AMAP is to monitor the levels of anthropogenic contaminants in all major compartments of the Arctic environment, and assess the environmental conditions in the area. This core programme will provide the Danish/Greenlandic authorities with data which make it possible to take part in the international AMAP programme under the Arctic Council. In order to monitor the levels of anthropogenic pollutants, samples will be collected and analysed. The measured components will include heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants in order to allow for spatial and temporal trends in Arctic biota. The program has taken in consideration the recommended importance of persistent organic pollutants and mercury and the importance of the marine food chain. The core program focuses on areas with high population density or areas with high levels of pollutants in the environment.
Humans in Greenland are exposed to higher intakes of some contaminants from the diet than in most of Europe and North America. The objective of the study is to screen the most important local diet items in West Greenland for cadmium, mercury, selenium and organochlorine contaminants. Mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates, mainly marine species are being analysed.