An assessment of contaminant concentrations in toothed whale species of the NW Iberian Peninsula: Part I. Persistent organic pollutants

Paula Mendez-Fernandez*, Lynda Webster, Tiphaine Chouvelon, Paco Bustamante, Marisa Ferreira, Angel F. Gonzalez, Alfredo Lopez, Colin F. Moffat, Graham J. Pierce, Fiona L. Read, Marie Russell, Maria B. Santos, Jerome Spitz, Jose V. Vingada, Florence Caurant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Concentrations and patterns of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the blubber of the five most common toothed whales off the Northwest Iberian Peninsula (NWIP), specifically common dolphin, long-finned pilot whale, harbour porpoise, striped dolphin and bottlenose dolphin, were investigated. The study revealed that differences in PCB and PBDE concentrations among the species are highly dependent on age and sex but also on ecological factors such as trophic level, prey type and habitat. Of the five species studied, bottlenose dolphin and harbour porpoise showed the greatest concentrations of PCBs. Both species exceed the toxic threshold of 17 mu g g(-1) lipid weight (PCB Aroclor equivalent) for health effects on marine mammals, for 100% and 75% of the individuals tested, respectively. Overall, the PCB and PBDE levels observed in the NWIP toothed whales were of the same order of magnitude or lower than those reported by previous studies in areas of the NE Atlantic. However, they are often higher than those for toothed whales from the southern Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-205
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date13 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2014


  • PCBs
  • PBDEs
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Patterns
  • Toothed whales
  • Northwest Iberian Peninsula
  • Bottle-nosed dolphins
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers
  • Porpoises phocoena-phocoena
  • Polychlorinated-Biphenyls PCBS
  • Female Coomon Dolphins
  • Western-European Seas
  • Harbor porpoises
  • Organochlorine residues
  • Tursiops-Truncatus
  • Marine mammals

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