Maternal transfer of phenol derivatives in the Baltic grey seal Halichoerus grypus grypus

Environ Pollut. 2018 Nov;242(Pt B):1642-1651. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.07.113. Epub 2018 Jul 27.


Studies of circulating levels in difference sex and age classes, and maternal transfer of bisphenol A, 4-tert-octylphenol and 4- nonylphenol in the Baltic grey seal were performed from 2014-2017. Blood was collected from long-term captive adult males, pregnant females and pups. Milk was collected from nursing females. The aim of this study was not only to determine the concentrations of phenol derivatives, i.e. bisphenol A (BPA), 4-tert-octylphenol (OP) and 4-nonylphenol (NP), but also to try to evaluate the transfer of these compounds to the next generation in the final stage of foetal life and in the first few weeks of life in juvenile marine mammals. The measurements were carried out using high performance liquid chromatography. The obtained data show that all phenol derivatives are present in the blood of males, females and pups (range <0.07-101 ng·cm-3) and in female milk (range <0.1-406.3 ng·cm-3). The main source of phenol derivatives in organisms is food exposure. Gender, age, or number of births were not observed to have a significant effect on changes in phenol derivative levels in seal blood within the breeding group. In the prenatal stage of life, a small amount of BPA and alkylphenols was passed on to the offspring through the placenta. In the blood of the offspring the concentration of these compounds exceeded the concentration in the mother's blood 1.5-fold. During nursing, females detoxified their systems. Level of phenol derivatives in the pups blood increased linearly with its increasing concentrations in the mother's milk. On the other hand, the seafood diet which started after the physiological fasting stage of the pup, stabilised the levels of phenol derivatives below 10 ng ∙ cm-3.

Keywords: Blood; Grey seal; Lactation; Maternal transfer; Phenol derivatives.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Female
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Phenols / blood
  • Pregnancy
  • Seals, Earless* / blood
  • Seals, Earless* / metabolism


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Phenols