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Accumulation of dioxins in deep-sea crustaceans, fish and sediments from a submarine canyon (NW Mediterranean)

August 14, 2013

Submarine canyons are efficient pathways transporting sediments and associated pollutants to deep sea. The objective of this work was to provide with the first assessment of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD) and dibenzofurans (PCDF) levels and accumulation in deep-sea megafauna (crustacean and fish) and sediments in the Blanes submarine canyon (north-western Mediterranean Sea). The influence of the selected species habitats (pelagic, nektobenthic and benthic) and the trophic chain level on the accumulation of dioxins was also investigated. Bottom sediment and biota samples were collected at different depths and locations inside the canyon and in the adjacent slope outside the canyon influence. ∑2,3,7,8-PCDD/F concentrations in sediments varied from 102 to 680 pg g-1 dry weight (d.w.) (1 – 6 WHO98-TEQ pg g-1 d.w.). Dioxins are enriched in bottom sediments at higher depths inside the canyon and in particular in the deepest parts of the canyon axis (1700m depth), whereas no enrichment of dioxins was verified at the deepest sediments from the adjacent open slope outside the canyon influence. The proportion of ∑2,3,7,8-PCDF (furans) to ∑2,3,7,8-PCDD (dioxins) increased for sediments with higher soot carbon content consistent with the higher affinity of PCDF for soption onto soot carbon. Higher ∑2,3,7,8-PCDD/F levels were found in crustaceans than in fish, ranging from 220 to 795 pg g-1 lipid weight (l.w.) (13 – 90 WHO98-TEQ pg g-1 l.w.) and 110 to 300 pg g-1 l.w. (22 – 33 WHO98-TEQ pg g-1 l.w.) in crustaceans and fish, respectively. Dioxin highest concentrations were found in nektobenthic organisms, i.e. benthic organism with swimming capabilities (both fish and crustaceans). This higher levels are consistent with the higher trophic level and predicted biomagnification factors (BMFs) of nektobenthic species. The reduced availability of sediment-bound PCDD/F for benthic species mainly due to soot and organic carbon sorption of these contaminants most probably influenced this result too. While biomagnification exerts a clear influence on the total dioxin concentrations in biota, life habits seem to exert an influence in the differential congener-specific accumulation of dioxins rather than in the total concentration. Thus, pelagic species reflected the estimated congener pattern from the surface water dissolved phase and phytoplankton, whereas the dioxin pattern in benthic and nektobenthic species was more similar to the estimated pattern in the deep-water dissolved phase and the sediment. The three crustacean species considered in this study bioaccumulated higher amounts of other dioxin congeners (non 2,3,7,8-PCDD/Fs) compared to fish. An interplay of several factors, such as biota habitats, differential uptake of water column dioxin (dissolved and particle-bound fractions) and different metabolization capabilities and rates (CYP-mediated metabolism) may explain the differences observed in dioxin patterns among crustacean species and between fish and crustaceans in the Blanes submarine canyon.

Castro-Jiménez J, Rotllant G, Ábalos M, Parera J, Dachs J, Company J B, Calafat A, Abad E, in press., Accumulation of dioxins in deep-sea crustaceans, fish and sediments from a submarine canyon (NW Mediterranean), Progress in Oceanography, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2013.07.017. Article.

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