ECOTOXICOLOGY

PCBs are still a problem for some marine life

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Science  12 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6274, pp. 677-678
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6274.677-c

Some cetacean species in European waters still harbor high levels of PCBs

PHOTO: © MARTIN STRMISKA/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Due to their environmental toxicity, most developed countries banned polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs) in the 1970s and 1980s. Since then, studies in marine regions off North America have shown a continued downward trend in their occurrence and levels in marine mammals and seabirds, but Jepson et al. find that this is not the case for marine mammals in European waters. Specifically, they looked at PCB levels in four cetacean species (the harbour porpoise, striped dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, and Atlantic killer whale). PCB levels in three of the four species were at, or above, established toxicity levels. The toxic effects of such high levels may be contributing to the observed declines and recruitment failures currently observed in these species.

Sci. Rep. 10.1038/srep18573 (2016).

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