Organohalogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants in American Eel (Anguilla Rostrata) Captured in Eastern Canada
Byer, Jonathan D.
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Recruitment of American eels (Anguilla rostrata) to Lake Ontario has declined rapidly over the past few decades. The commercial yellow eel fishery in Lake Ontario was closed in 2004 due to a lack of eel abundance. Researchers have been attempting to ascertain the reasons for the decline, although thus far, without definitive answers. In this thesis, the question of chemical contamination is addressed as it relates to female eel spawner quality. Spatial concentration trends of halogenated persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are described in eels collected from across eastern Canada, as well as temporal concentration trends in eels collected from a historically important area of northeastern Lake Ontario, Canada. Chlorinated POPs in eels, namely, organochlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans are all significantly less than historic values which peaked in the 1960-70s. Measured concentrations of chlorinated POPs in eels from Lake Ontario have decreased by up to 3-fold over the past three decades, and exceeded toxicity thresholds historically for surrogate species (European eel and lake trout). Thus, chlorinated POPs may have had an effect on spawner quality. Concentrations of legacy POPs in eels were dependent on their origin, with eels from highly urbanized and industrialized areas having significantly higher concentrations than eels captured in less developed regions. Similar trends were observed for polybrominated diphenyl ethers and chlorinated norbornene flame retardants. A number of emerging brominated compounds were also measured in these eels by non-target analysis including bromophenols, bromobenzenes, and bromoanisoles. This thesis demonstrates that eels are an ideal species to investigate local sources of pollution, and provide chemical data that may be used in the future, when more toxicity information is available for eels, to assess the health risks posed by accumulated chemical contaminants.