Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in antarctic fish: levels, patterns, changes

kweber [ at ]


Organochlorine compounds were analysed in three fish species of different feeding types from the area of Elephant Island in the Antarctic. In 1996, HCB (means: 15-20 ng/g lipid), p,p'-DDE (5-13 ng/g lipid) and mirex (1-7 ng/g lipid) predominated, while PCBs were minor components (PCB 153: 0.4-2 ng/g lipid). Concentration patterns were species-dependent: PCB 180, PCB 153, mirex, nonachlor III, trans-nonachlor and the toxaphene compound B8-1413 were highest in the bottom invertebrate feeder Gobionotothen gibberifrons and lowest in the krill feeder Champsocephalus gunnari. Levels of p,p'-DDE, PCB 138 and heptachloro-1'-methyl-1,2'-bipyrrole (Q1), a natural bioaccumulative product, were highest in the fish feeder Chaenocephalus aceratus, whereas HCB was present in about equal concentrations in all species. Most compounds were taken up preferentially via the benthic food chain, the chlorinated bipyrrole via the pelagic food chain and HCB from the water. In antarctic fish, biomagnification was generally more important than bioconcentration. Between 1987 and 1996, most POP levels showed significant increases in the benthos feeder and the fish feeder, while they remained nearly constant or increased less in the krill feeder. Hence, the former species represent indicator species for changing POP levels in Antarctica. Ratios (1996/1987) of average concentrations in G. gibberifrons were: PCB 138 0.7, HCB 0.8, B8-1413 1.5, PCB 180 1.7, PCB 153 1.8, p,p'-DDE 2.0, nonachlor III 2.9, trans-nonachlor 3.3, mirex 6.7. By comparison with trends in the northern hemisphere it is concluded that global distribution of HCB is close to equilibrium. Changing levels of other POPs reflect global redistribution and increasing transfer to antarctic waters probably due to recent usage in the southern hemisphere and climate changes.

Item Type
Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/S0045-6535(03)00551-4

Cite as
Weber, K. and Goerke, H. (2003): Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in antarctic fish: levels, patterns, changes , Chemosphere, 53 (6), pp. 667-678 . doi: 10.1016/S0045-6535(03)00551-4



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