Tissue distribution of perfluorinated chemicals in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from the Dutch Wadden Sea

Kristin I. Van de Vijver*, Philippe Hoff, K. Das, S.M.J.M. Brasseur, W.M.A.M. van Dongen, Eddy Esmans, P.J.H. Reijnders, Ronny Blust, W. De Coen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Perfluorinated acids (PFAs) are today widely distributed in the environment, even in remote arctic areas. Recently, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) has been identified in marine mammals all over the world, but information on the compound-specific tissue distribution remains scarce. Furthermore, although longer perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs) are used in industry and were shown to cause severe toxic effects, still little is known on potential sources or their widespread distribution. In this study, we report for the first time on levels of longer chain PFCAs, together with some short chain PFAs, perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) and perfluorobutanoate (PFBA), in liver, kidney, blubber, muscle, and spleen tissues of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from the Dutch Wadden Sea. PFOS was the predominant compound in all seal samples measured (ranging from 89 to 2724 ng/g wet weight); however, large variations between tissues were monitored. Although these are preliminary results, it is, to our knowledge, the first time that PFBS could be found at detectable concentrations (2.3 ± 0.7 ng/g w wt) in environmental samples. PFBS was only detected in spleen tissue. PFCA levels were much lower than PFOS concentrations. The dominant PFCA in all tissues was PFNA (perfluorononanoic acid), and concentrations generally decreased in tissues for all other PFCA homologues with increasing chain length. No clear relationship between PFOS levels in liver and kidney was observed. Furthermore, hepatic PFDA (perfluorodecanoic acid) levels increased with increasing body length, but in kidney tissue, PFDA levels showed an inverse relationship with increasing body length. These data suggest large differences in tissue distribution and accumulation patterns of perfluorinated compounds in marine organisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6978-6984
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


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