Two fish species (mud carp and northern snakehead) forming a predator/prey relationship and sediment samples were collected from a pond contaminated by e-waste. The concentrations and stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) of individual polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners were measured to determine if compound-specific carbon isotope analysis (CSIA) could be used to provide insight into the metabolism and trophic dynamics of PCBs and PBDEs. Significant correlations were found in the isotopic data of PCB congeners between the sediment and the fish species and between the two fish indicating identical origin of PCBs in sediment and fish. Most PCB congeners in the fish species were enriched in 13C compared with the PCB congeners in the sediments as a result of isotopic fractionation during the metabolism of PCBs in fish. The isotopic data of several PCB congeners showing isotopic agreement or isotopic depletion could be used for source apportionment or to trace the reductive dechlorination process of PCBs in the environment. The PCB isotopic data covaried more in the northern snakehead than in the mud carp when compared to the sediment, implying that a similar isotopic fractionation occurs from the prey to the predator fish for a PCB congener possibly due to similar metabolic pathways. The PBDE congener patterns differed in the three sample types with a high abundance of BDE209, 183, 99, and 47 in the sediment, BDE47, 153, and 49 in the mud carp and BDE47, 100, and 154 in the northern snakehead. The isotopic change of BDE congeners, such as BDE47 and BDE49, in two fish species, provides evidence for biotransformation of PBDEs in biota. The results of this study suggest that CSIA is a promising tool for deciphering the fate of PCBs and PBDEs in the environment.
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