Trematomus bernacchii as an indicator of POP temporal trend in the Antarctic seawaters

Environ Pollut. 2016 Oct;217:19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2015.12.057. Epub 2016 Jan 14.


The occurrence of POPs in remote areas, such as Antarctica, is the result of their ability to udergo Long Range Transport (LRT) in the atmosphere, precipitation and cold condensation. In this study, both recent levels of various POPs in Trematomus bernacchii and their changes in roughly three decades were determined in order to evaluate trends of POPs in Antarctic benthic seawaters. In fact, Trematomus bernacchii is considered a good sentinel bio-indicator for monitoring not only the extent of contamination by POPs in the Antarctic aquatic ecosystem, but also changes in Antarctic ecosystem quality and trends. A slight decreasing PCB trend was detected during 30-years time span (from early 1980's to 2010) in the circumantarctic seawaters. Two higher peaks of concentrations were reported in 2001 and 2005 in the Ross Sea and they may reflect the ice melting of icebergs. Because fire risk is very high in Antarctica due to the very dry air, a large use of flame retardants in buildings and furniture of stations is highly probable; moreover, many stations were built when there were no restrictions on flame retardants use. The PBDE levels in the T. bernacchii from 2001 to 2011 ranged 0.05-0.35 pg/g and were of the same order of magnitude in 2001/2011 and in 2002/2005, with a maximum value in 2005 (0.35 pg/g). Comparable concentrations of HCB, HCHs PCDDs and PCDFs are available only for few seasons: all these compounds showed a decreasing temporal trends and their concentrations were one or more order of magnitude lower in 2000s-2010s.

Keywords: Antarctica; POPs; Ross Sea; Temporal trend; Trematomus bernacchii.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antarctic Regions
  • Ecosystem
  • Flame Retardants / analysis*
  • Hydrocarbons, Halogenated / analysis*
  • Perciformes / metabolism*
  • Seawater / chemistry*
  • Time Factors
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*


  • Flame Retardants
  • Hydrocarbons, Halogenated
  • Water Pollutants