Concentrations of chlorinated hydrocarbons and trace elements in marine mammal tissues archived in the U.S. National Biomonitoring Specimen Bank

Chemosphere. 1997 May;34(9-10):2067-98. doi: 10.1016/s0045-6535(97)00069-6.


The U.S. National Biomonitoring Specimen Bank (NBSB) provides for the long term storage of well documented and preserved specimens representing several types of environmental matrices. A major part of this inventory consists of marine mammal tissues (e.g., blubber, liver, kidney, and muscle). Within the NBSB selected specimens are periodically analyzed for chlorinated hydrocarbons and trace elements. Although only 20% of the 560 marine mammal specimens in the NBSB have been analyzed, the database is of value in evaluating the stability of analytes and sample degradation during storage, for comparing with results from samples collected in the future for long-term monitoring, and for comparing with analytical results from other laboratories on samples collected at the same time for monitoring purposes. The NBSB analytical database contains results for 37 elements, many of which are not analyzed routinely by conventional analytical techniques used in monitoring programs, and the following organic compounds: selected PCB congeners. DDT compounds, alpha- and gamma-HCH, HCB, heptachlor epoxide, oxychlordane, cis-chlordane, trans-chlordane, cis-nonachlor, trans-nonachlor, and dieldrin in 9 marine mammal species: northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), ringed seal (Phoca hispida), spotted seal (P. largha), bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus), pilot whale (Globicephala melas), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus), beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), and bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus). Analyses of beluga whale blubber for toxaphene and additional chlorinated hydrocarbons are obtained through collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Archives
  • Biological Specimen Banks*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Female
  • Government Agencies
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis*
  • Male
  • Mammals / metabolism*
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Organ Specificity
  • Pilot Projects
  • Trace Elements / analysis*
  • United States
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Trace Elements
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical