Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New pollutants: Flame retardants detected in peregrine falcon eggs

Date:
April 18, 2011
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Flame retardants are chemical compounds added to fabrics and plastics to keep them from burning easily, but these can be toxic. Now a team of researchers from Spain and Canada has detected some of these emerging pollutants for the first time in peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) eggs in both countries.

Flame retardants reach the peregrine falcons.
Credit: Mike Baird

Flame retardants are chemical compounds added to fabrics and plastics to keep them from burning easily, but these can be toxic. Now a team of researchers from Spain and Canada has detected some of these emerging pollutants for the first time in peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) eggs in both countries.

"The presence of 'dechlorane plus' and other related, chlorinated compounds used as flame retardants have been detected for the first time in the European biota (flora and fauna of the region)," explains Ethel Eljarrat, co-author of the study and scientist at the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Studies (IDAEA-CSIC, Spain).

The researchers have found these substances in peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) eggs in both Spain and Canada. The flame retardants are often added to textiles, electronic circuits and other products to inhibit or resist the spread of fire, but can be transferred to the environment.

In nature these compounds are "bioaccumulating and bioconcentrating" all along the food chain, as evidenced by the research published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal. The international research team for this study was led by Begoña Jiménez of the Institute of Organic Chemistry (CSIC, Spain), and Environment Canada researchers, Kim Fernie and Mehran Alaee.

Having received the relevant permits, eggs that had failed to hatch from various active falcon nests in Canada and Spain, were collected. The collection involved 13 eggs from Spain (five in Guadalajara -- a territory representative of an inland habitat of the Iberian Peninsula -- and eight in Bilbao -- representing a coastal environment), and 12 eggs from Canada (Great Lakes Region and Eastern provinces).

The levels of some of the measured contaminants have been found to be somewhat higher in Bilbao than in Guadalajara, and the authors believe this may be due partially to the difference in the falcons' diet: more aquatic in the former and more terrestrial in the latter. In fact, if fish is highly contaminated, peregrines would accumulate more of the harmful substances. While peregrine falcons do not eat fish, they prey upon other birds, some of which may eat fish.

Selecting the peregrine falcon was no accident. This species was endangered in many areas of the northern hemisphere due to the use of organochlorinated pesticides, particularly DDT, though when this was prohibited in the 1970s the populations recovered. Furthermore, falcons are at the top end of the food chain and accumulate substances carried by their prey.

Highest levels in the Canadian samples

The results reveal that the concentrations of 'dechlorane plus' and some of the other chlorinated halogens were "significantly higher" in the Canadian falcons' eggs than in those of Spain. The reason for this could be that the industry that has manufactured these compounds for decades (although they are now also produced in China) is located in New York State close to the area where samples were collected. In addition, the use of these compounds has generally been higher in North America than Europe.

The researcher acknowledges that the effects that these flame retardants may have on the falcons' eggs or on their development are still unknown, "but their detection is a first step." These are emerging pollutants, which comprise both those which have appeared more recently and those that have been used for a long time but are just lately the subject of environmental interest.

Other flame retardants, including some brominated flame retardants, have already been confirmed as toxic endocrine disruptors, and their use has been prohibited in some of the commercial mixes in Europe and America. Furthermore, they are candidates for inclusion on a list of Persistent Organic Pollutants to be eliminated, a list compiled by the Stockholm Convention which includes other pollutants such as DDT or dioxins.

This study forms part of the doctoral thesis submitted this month by the researcher Paula Guerra from IDAEA on "The analysis of emerging halogenated flame retardants and their impact on the environment and on humans." All of the eggs were analyzed by her during her exchange studies at Environment Canada.

A research group at IDAEA led by Damià Barceló has also confirmed the presence of these compounds in sediment and fish in the rivers of the Ebro basin (Spain).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paula Guerra, Kim Fernie, Begoña Jiménez, Grazina Pacepavicius, Li Shen, Eric Reiner, Ethel Eljarrat, Damià Barceló, Mehran Alaee. Dechlorane Plus and Related Compounds in Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)Eggs from Canada and Spain. Environmental Science & Technology, 2011; 45 (4): 1284 DOI: 10.1021/es103333j

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "New pollutants: Flame retardants detected in peregrine falcon eggs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418093725.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2011, April 18). New pollutants: Flame retardants detected in peregrine falcon eggs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418093725.htm
Plataforma SINC. "New pollutants: Flame retardants detected in peregrine falcon eggs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418093725.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) — River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins