Establishing current levels of legacy and emerging Persistent Organic Pollutants in Antarctic benthic invertebrates near Rothera Point, Western Antarctic Peninsula.
- Human Biomonitoring Research Unit
The levels of pollutants in polar regions is gaining progressively more attention from the science community. This is especially so for pollutants that persist in the environment and can reach polar latitudes via a wide range of routes, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). In this study samples of Antarctic marine benthic organisms were analysed for legacy and emerging POPs to comprehensively assess the current POPs concentrations in Antarctic benthos and infer the potential sources of the pollutants. Specimens of 5 different benthic invertebrate species were collected in 2 distinct locations near the Rothera Research station (67 degrees 35'8"S and 68 degrees 7'59"W). Any impact of the nearby Rothera Station as a local source of pollution appeared to be negligible. The most abundant chemicals detected were HCB and BDE-209, reaching the highest concentrations in limpets and urchins, followed by sea stars, ascidians and sea cucumbers. The relative congener patterns of PCBs and PBDEs were almost the same in all species. Some chemicals (e.g. Heptachlor, Oxychlordane and Mirex) were detected in the Antarctic invertebrates for the first time. Statistical methods revealed that the distribution of the POPs is not only driven by the feeding traits of the species, but also by the physico-chemical properties of the individual compounds. Benthic invertebrates are excellent indicators of the contaminant patterns of inshore Antarctic ecosystems.