We compared temporal trends of legacy organochlorine pesticides and PCBs in eggs of five seabird species breeding at Prince Leopold Island in the Canadian high Arctic. Concentrations of most of the major organochlorine groups/compounds have either declined (e.g. Σ35PCB, ΣDDT, ΣCBz, ΣCHL, octachlorostyrene) or shown no consistent directional change (e.g. heptachlor epoxide) since 1975 in eggs of thick-billed murres (Uria lomvia), northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) and black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla). Aside from β-HCH, which increased in most species, the major organochlorine compounds either declined or showed no trend between 1993 and 2013 in eggs of five seabird species (thick-billed murre, northern fulmar, black-legged kittiwake, black guillemot Cepphus grylle, glaucous gull Larus hyperboreus). Most of the declines occurred during the 1970s to 1990s followed by little change during the 2000s. Glaucous gull eggs had the highest concentrations of almost all organochlorines in the five years compared (1993, 1998, 2003/04, 2008, 2013), and murre eggs generally had among the lowest concentrations. The primary organochlorines found in eggs of all five species were Σ35PCB, ΣDDT (mainly p,p′-DDE), ΣCBz (mainly hexachlorobenzene) and ΣCHL (mainly oxychlordane) although proportions varied by species and year. The major PCB congeners found in eggs of all five species were CB-153, -138, -118 and -180. The penta-, hexa- and heptachlorobiphenyl homologs comprised the largest proportion of Σ35PCB in all five species. Although levels of most legacy organochlorines have declined since 1975, the potential for climate change to alter chemical transport pathways as well as exposure pathways in the biotic environment could affect temporal trends. Therefore, it is important to continue to monitor these legacy contaminants in order to determine how these changes will affect the temporal trends observed to date.

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Science of the Total Environment
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

Braune, B.M, Gaston, A.J. (Anthony J.), & Mallory, M.L. (Mark L.). (2019). Temporal trends of legacy organochlorines in eggs of Canadian Arctic seabirds monitored over four decades. Science of the Total Environment, 646, 551–563. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.291