High accumulation of PCDD, PCDF, and PCB congeners in marine mammals from Brazil: a serious PCB problem

Sci Total Environ. 2013 Oct 1:463-464:309-18. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.06.015. Epub 2013 Jul 2.


Blubber samples from three delphinid species (false killer whale, Guiana and rough-toothed dolphin), as well as liver samples from franciscana dolphins were analyzed for dioxins and related compounds (DRCs). Samples were collected from 35 cetaceans stranded or incidentally captured in a highly industrialized and urbanized area (Southeast and Southern Brazilian regions). Dioxin-like PCBs accounted for over 83% of the total TEQ for all cetaceans. Non-ortho coplanar PCBs, for franciscanas (82%), and mono-ortho PCBs (up to 80%), for delphinids, constituted the groups of highest contribution to total TEQ. Regarding franciscana dolphins, significant negative correlations were found between total length (TL) and three variables, ΣTEQ-DRCs, ΣTEQ-PCDF and ΣTEQ non-ortho PCB. An increasing efficiency of the detoxifying activity with the growth of the animal may be a plausible explanation for these findings. This hypothesis is reinforced by the significant negative correlation found between TL and PCB126/PCB169 concentration ratio. DRC concentrations (ng/g lipids) varied from 36 to 3006, for franciscana dolphins, as well as from 356 to 30,776, for delphinids. The sum of dioxin-like and indicator PCBs varied from 34,662 to 279,407 ng/g lipids, for Guiana dolphins from Rio de Janeiro state, which are among the highest PCB concentrations ever reported for cetaceans. The high concentrations found in our study raise concern not only on the conservation of Brazilian coastal cetaceans, but also on the possibility of human health problem due to consumption of fish from Brazilian estuaries.

Keywords: Brazil; Dioxins; Dolphins; Furans; PCBs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Benzofurans / analysis*
  • Brazil
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Dolphins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Male
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analogs & derivatives*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Benzofurans
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls