Residues of hydroxylated (OH-) and methoxylated (MeO-) polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been previously detected in precipitation, surface waters, wildlife, and humans. We report measured concentrations of OH-PBDEs, MeO-PBDEs, and Br3-Br7 PBDEs in sediments and biota from a Canadian Arctic marine food web. PBDEs exhibited very low trophic magnification factors (TMFs between 0.1-1.6), compared to recalcitrant PCBs (TMFs between 3 and 11), indicating biotransformation via debromination and/or cytochrome P450 mediated metabolism. OH-PBDEs were not detectable in samples of blood, muscle, and/or liver of fish and marine wildlife. Five OH-PBDEs were detected at very low concentrations (range: 0.01-0.1 ng x g(-1) lipid equivalent) in beluga whale blubber and milk. The data indicate negligible formation/retention of OH-PBDEs in these Arctic marine organisms. Appreciable levels of several MeO-PBDEs were observed in bivalves, Arctic cod, sculpin, seaducks, and beluga whales (mean range 0.1-130 ng x g(-1) lipid equivalent). 2'-MeO-BDE-68 and 6-MeO-BDE-47 exhibited the highest concentrations among the brominated compounds studied (including BDE-47 and BDE-99) and biomagnified slightly in the food web, with TMFs of 2.3 and 2.6, respectively. OH- and MeO-PBDEs in this Arctic marine food web may occur via metabolic transformation of PBDEs or bioaccumulation of PBDE degradation products and/or natural marine products. We observed no evidence of a local natural source of OH- or MeO-PBDEs, as no measurable quantities of those compounds were observed in ambient environmental media (i.e., sediments) or macroalgae. Further investigations of PBDEs and their hydroxylated and methoxylated analogues would be useful to better understand sources, fate, and mechanisms governing biotransformation and bioaccumulation behavior of these compounds.
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