Hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (OH-PBDEs) and methoxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (MeO-PBDEs) found at high levels in the Baltic biota are mainly natural products, but can also be formed through metabolism or abiotic oxidation of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The formation of OH-PBDEs is of concern since there is growing evidence of phenolic toxicity. This study investigates seasonal variations in levels of OH-PBDEs and MeO-PBDEs, focusing on an exposed species, the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), sampled in the Baltic Sea in May, June, August and October of 2008. Both the OH-PBDE and MeO-PBDE levels in the mussels showed seasonal variations from May to October, the highest concentration of each congener appearing in June. The seasonal variation was more marked for OH-PBDEs than in MeO-PBDEs, but all congeners showed the same trends, except 6-MeO-BDE47 and 2′-MeO-BDE68, which did not significantly decline in concentrations after June. Biotic or abiotic debromination is suggested as a possible reason for the rapid decrease in methoxylated penta- and hexa-BDE concentrations observed in blue mussels from June to August, while the tetraBDE concentrations were stable. In addition, 1,3,7/1,3,8-tribrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins showed the same seasonal variation. The seasonal variations indicates natural formation and are unlikely to be due to transformation of anthropogenic precursors. The levels of PBDEs were fairly constant over time and considerably lower than those of the OH-PBDEs and MeO-PBDEs. The timing of the peaks in concentrations suggests that filamentous macro-algae may be important sources of these compounds found in the blue mussels from this Baltic Sea location. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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