Organophosphate esters in East Greenland polar bears and ringed seals: Adipose tissue concentrations and in vitro depletion and metabolite formation.

New publication by: Strobel A, Willmore WG, Sonne C, Dietz R, Letcher, RJ

2018.01.11 | Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen

Photo: Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen


East Greenland is a contamination “hot spot” for long-range transported anthropogenic chemicals, including organophosphate esters (OPEs). High concentrations of OPEs have been reported in arctic air while very little is known for wildlife where OPE tissue residues levels appear to be strongly influenced by biotransformation. In the present study, the hepatic in vitro metabolism of six environmentally relevant organophosphate (OP) triesters and corresponding OP diester formation were investigated in East Greenland polar bears (PBs) and ringed seals (RSs). The in vitro metabolism assay results were compared to adipose levels in field samples from the same individuals. In vitro OP triester metabolism was generally rapid and structure-dependent, where PBs metabolized OPEs more rapidly than RSs. Exceptions were the lack of triethyl phosphate (TEP) metabolism and slow metabolism of tris(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate (TEHP) in both species. OP diester metabolites were also formed with the exception of TEP which was not metabolized at all. Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate was completely converted to its corresponding diester. However, the mass balances showed that OP diester formation corresponding to TEHP, tri(n-butyl) phosphate, and tris(2-butyoxyethyl) phosphate did not account for 100% of the OP triester depletion, which indicated alternate pathways of OP triester metabolism had occurred. Triphenyl phosphate was completely converted to its OP diester metabolite in PBs but not in RSs suggesting species-specific differences. The results demonstrated that OP triester bioaccumulation and fate in PBs versus their RS prey is substantially influenced by biotransformation.

Chemosphere 196 (2018) 240e250.

Arctic Research Centre