Spatial trends and factors affecting variation of organochlorine contaminants levels in Canadian Arctic beluga (Delphinapterus leucas).Sci Total Environ. 2005 Dec 01; 351-352:344-68.ST
Organochlorine pesticides and PCBs were analysed in blubber from beluga (Delphinapterus leucas), or white whales, collected at 15 sites in the Canadian Arctic between 1993 and 2001. The objective of the study was to define and interpret the spatial trends of major organic contaminants in northern beluga in terms of sources and transport pathways, and the biological factors influencing accumulation. When compared on a lipid weight basis, the concentrations of beta-HCH, cis-CHL and SigmaCHL, cis-nonachlor, heptachlor epoxide and p,p'-DDT were significantly higher in males than females at all five sites in the eastern Arctic where the two sexes were harvested. The differences were attributed to losses from the females during fetal development and lactation as reported in previous studies. Major compounds increased with age in males at most sites, however the lack of a significant increase with age at some sites was in part due to high organochlorine concentrations in young year classes (2-5 years), particularly at eastern sites such as Iqaluit and Pangnirtung. Lower concentrations of SigmaHCH and SigmaDDT compounds in young males in 2001 relative to 1995 at Hendrickson Island could be due to declining levels in the environment, changes in the diet, or differences in organochlorine loads transferred from the female after birth. Age-corrected least square mean concentrations in males showed significantly higher levels of many compounds, such as p,p'-DDE and SigmaCHB, at south Baffin Island sites than those in the west. Two notable exceptions were HCBz and beta-HCH which were higher in the west. Methoxyclor was detected in males at Sanikiluaq (58 ng g-1) and in both sexes at Kimmirut, but at no other sites. Principal component analysis grouped the 16 sites into five major groupings based on the similarity of normalised organochlorine pesticide and PCB levels. Sites from the western Arctic were grouped by higher proportions of HCBz, beta-HCH and gamma-HCH and higher chlorinated PCBs. Endosulfan and alpha-HCH comprised a larger proportion of total organochlorine residues in the northern Hudson Bay sites, while methoxychlor, chlordane compounds and octachlorobiphenyls were enriched at Sanikiluaq in eastern Hudson Bay. The analysis showed that the relative amounts of several key compounds are similar in the beluga stocks over large spatial areas (i.e. eastern versus western sites), however, some stocks have distinct fingerprints which can be used to differentiate them from adjacent stocks. Ratios of major HCH isomers largely corresponded with air and surface water measurements conducted during the 1990s, but low alpha-/beta- and alpha-/gamma-HCH ratios in all three western Arctic collections indicate rapid losses of the alpha-isomer from the food web, proportionately higher beta- and gamma-isomers in the Beaufort Sea, or a combination of the two processes. Chlordane residue patterns generally correspond to those from previous studies, however, interpretation of spatial trends are difficult due to the aging of the probable sources in the south, possible atmospheric input from new sources and complex transport pathways.