Researchers at the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML) and four partner organizations have measured for the first time concentrations of 13 perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) in five different endangered species of sea turtles. While PFC toxicology studies have not yet been conducted on turtles, the levels of the compounds seen in all five species approach the amounts known to cause adverse health effects in other animals.
PFCs are man-made compounds that have many uses including stain-resistant coatings, fire-fighting foams and emulsifiers in plastics manufacturing. They have become widespread pollutants, are detectable in human and wildlife samples worldwide, infiltrate food chains, and have been shown in laboratory animalsrats, mice and fishto be toxic to the liver, the thyroid, neurobehavioral function and the immune system. The PFCs most commonly found in the environment are perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Located in Charleston, S.C., the HML is a collaboration of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina.
"In our experiment, we wanted to accomplish two goals," says NIST research biologist and study lead Jennifer Keller. "We wanted to get the first accurate measurements of the plasma blood concentrations of PFCs in five sea turtle species across different trophic [food chain] levels, and then compare those concentrations to ones known to cause toxic effects in laboratory animals. That way, we could estimate the potential health risks from PFC exposure for all five turtles."
The five sea turtle species studied were the green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead and Kemp's ridley. Their preferred diets range up the food chain from the green's sea grasses and algae to the crabs favored by the Kemp's
|Contact: Michael E. Newman|
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)