Seaducks may be affected by harmful levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at seaports near the Arctic. As an indicator of exposure to PAHs, we measured hepatic enzyme 7-ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity (EROD) to determine cytochrome P4501A induction in Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri) and Harlequin ducks (Histronicus histronicus) from Unalaska, Popof, and Unga Islands (AK, USA) in 2002 and 2003. We measured PAHs and organic contaminants in seaduck prey samples and polychlorinated biphenyl congeners in seaduck blood plasma to determine any relationship to EROD. Using Akaike's information criterion, species and site differences best explained EROD patterns: Activity was higher in Harlequin ducks than in Steller's eiders and higher at industrial than at nonindustrial sites. Site-specific concentrations of PAHs in blue mussels ([Mytilus trossilus] seaduck prey; PAH concentrations higher at Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, than at other sites) also was important in defining EROD patterns. Organochlorine compounds rarely were detected in prey samples. No relationship was found between polychlorinated biphenyl congeners in avian blood and EROD, which further supported inferences derived from Akaike's information criterion. Congeners were highest in seaducks from a nonindustrial or reference site, contrary to PAH patterns. To assist in interpreting the field study, 15 captive Steller's eiders were dosed with a PAH known to induce cytochrome P4501A. Dosed, captive Steller's eiders had definitive induction, but results indicated that wild Steller's eiders were exposed to PAHs or other inducing compounds at levels greater than those used in laboratory studies. Concentrations of PAHs in blue mussels at or near Dutch Harbor (???1,180-5,980 ng/g) approached those found at highly contaminated sites (???4,100-7,500 ng/g). ?? 2007 SETAC.
Additional publication details
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri) and harlequin ducks (Histronicus histronicus) in the Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA