Absorption of decabromodiphenyl ether and other organohalogen chemicals by grey seals (Halichoerus grypus)

Gareth O. Thomas, Simon E.W. Moss, Lillemor Asplund, Ailsa J. Hall

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63 Citations (Scopus)


An input-output balance study was performed for polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls and some organochlorine pesticides on three captive, juvenile grey seals (Halichoerus grypus). The animals were fed a diet of herring for six months, during the last three months of which this study was performed. A supplement of decabromodiphenyl ether was included in the diet during the second month of the study. Consistently high absorption (>89%) was observed for all of the chemicals studied, whereas work on other animals has generally shown high (>80%) net absorption at log K OW < ∼6, dropping towards higher log K OW, and very low absorption of decabromodiphenyl ether. The half-life of decabromodiphenyl ether in blood was estimated to be between 8.5 and 13 days. Measurable concentrations of decabromodiphenyl ether were detected in seal blubber at the end of the study, indicating that this chemical can be stored in adipose and may bioaccumulate. Current understanding of the mechanism of absorption of organohalogen chemicals and the potential for accumulation of decabromodiphenyl ether will need reassessing in the light of these results. Decabromodiphenyl ether is absorbed effectively from the diet by grey seals, and can be stored in the blubber even after exposure ceases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-586
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2005


  • BDE209
  • Bioavailability
  • Fish
  • Marine foodchain
  • PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)
  • Polybrominated diphenylethers


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