The occurrence of tetrabromobisphenol-A-bis(2,3,-dibromopropyl ether) (TBBPA-BDBPE) flame retardant is generally unknown in wildlife. A highly sensitive, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-based method was developed for TBBPA-BDBPE with optimized parameters for large volume injection. We report on TBBPA-BDBPE and temporal and spatial trends in herring gull egg pools and individuals from 14 colony sites across the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America. TBBPA-BDBPE identification was confirmed using liquid chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry and quantification with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry analysis. TBBPA-BDBPE was quantifiable in 95% of egg pools from all colonies sampled in 2013-2017, and retrospective analysis of archived eggs (2001-2017) at 3 of the 14 colonies indicated that TBBPA-BDBPE concentrations were greater in pools from eggs collected in more recent years (<MLOD to 42.8 ng/g wet weight (ww)). For individual eggs, the concentration range was <MLOD to 497 ng/g ww. Individual eggs from 2 other herring gull colonies, north and south Pukaskwa National Park, Lake Superior, were analyzed for TBBPA-BDBPE, and dietary markers (fatty acids) revealed possible exposure pathways. Selected colonies with known dietary differences (i.e., terrestrial versus aquatic) indicated that TBBPA-BDBPE exposure was associated with terrestrial origin. Herring gull regurgitates and feces were collected from several colonies with TBBPA-BDBPE ranging from <MLOD to 21.7 ng/g dry weight (dw) and <MLOD to 16.3 ng/g ww, respectively. Typical of many alternate flame retardants in wildlife, TBBPA-BDBPE levels in the gull samples were low with a few high values and increasing prevalence through time.
Environmental Science and Technology
Department of Biology

Gauthier, L.T. (Lewis T.), Laurich, B. (Bruce), Hebert, C.E, Drake, C. (Christine), & Letcher, R.J. (2019). Tetrabromobisphenol-A-Bis(dibromopropyl ether) Flame Retardant in Eggs, Regurgitates, and Feces of Herring Gulls from Multiple North American Great Lakes Locations. Environmental Science and Technology. doi:10.1021/acs.est.9b02472