Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Technical Memorandum
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8314
Title: Exposure to a Mixture of Toxic Chemicals: Implications for the Health of Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales
Author/Editor: Teresa M. Mongillo, Gina Marie Ylitalo, Linda D. Rhodes, Sandra M. O'Neill, D. P. Noren, M. B. Hanson
Publication Year: 2016
Tech Memo Number: NMFS-NWFSC-135
Pages: 107
Date: 11/30/2016
Keywords: killer whale, chemical contaminants, organic contaminants, health effects, persistent organic pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls, PCB, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, PBDE, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, DDT, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAH, thyroid hormone, immunotoxicity, bioaccumulation, marine mammals,

The primary objectives of this Technical Memorandum are to review the contaminants that may pose a risk to the Southern Resident killer whales and to discuss the health implications of exposure to these contaminants. In this report, we focus on three persistent organic pollutants (POPs): polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its metabolites. We focus on these three POPs because they are found at relatively high levels in the whales and may cause adverse health effects. We also describe what is currently known about the whales’ geographic distribution and diet, as well as contaminant levels measured in their prey. We review the factors that influence contaminant bioaccumulation and the development of biomarkers for exposure and toxicity. Lastly, we highlight data gaps and make recommendations for future studies.

Theme: Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
Foci: Describe the relationships between human activities and species recovery, rebuilding and sustainability.
Official Citation:

Mongillo, T. M., G. M. Ylitalo, L. D. Rhodes, S. M. O'Neill, D. P. Noren, and M. B. Hanson. 2016. Exposure to a mixture of toxic chemicals: Implications for the health of endangered Southern Resident killer whales. U.S. Dept. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-NWFSC-135, 107 p.