Concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in Forster’s tern (Sterna forsteri) eggs from San Francisco Bay have been reported to range up to 63 μg g−1 lipid weight. This value exceeds the lowest-observed-adverse-effect level (1.8 μg g−1 egg wet weight; ∼32 μg−1 lipid weight) reported in an embryotoxicity study with American kestrels (Falco sparverius). As a surrogate for Forster’s terns, common tern (Sterna hirundo) eggs were treated by air cell injection with corn oil vehicle (control) or a commercial penta-BDE formulation (DE-71) at nominal concentrations of 0.2, 2, and 20 μg g−1 egg. As a positive control, kestrel eggs received vehicle or 20 μg DE-71 g−1 egg. In terns, there were no effects of DE-71 on embryonic survival, and pipping or hatching success; however, treated eggs hatched later (0.44 d) than controls. Organ weights, organ-to-body weight ratios, and bone lengths did not differ, and histopathological observations were unremarkable. Several measures of hepatic oxidative stress in hatchling terns were not affected by DE-71, although there was some evidence of oxidative DNA damage (8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine; 8-OH-dG). Although DE-71 did not impair pipping and hatching of kestrels, it did result in a delay in hatch, shorter humerus length, and reduced total thyroid weight. Concentrations of oxidized glutathione, reduced glutathione, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, and 8-OH-dG in liver were greater in DE-71-treated kestrels compared to controls. Our findings suggest common tern embryos, and perhaps other tern species, are less sensitive to PBDEs than kestrel embryos.
Additional publication details
Comparative embryotoxicity of a pentabrominated diphenyl ether mixture to common terns (Sterna hirundo) and American kestrels (Falco sparverius)
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, San Francisco Bay-Delta