[MARMAM] New Publication: Levels of Polychlorinated Biphenyls Are Still Associated with Toxic Effects in Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) Despite Having Fallen below Proposed Toxicity Thresholds

Rosie Williams Rosie.Williams at ioz.ac.uk
Tue Mar 10 07:36:21 PDT 2020

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors and I, we're pleased to announce the publication of
our paper: “Levels of Polychlorinated Biphenyls Are Still Associated with Toxic Effects in Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) Despite Having Fallen below Proposed Toxicity Thresholds”.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic, persistent, and lipophilic chemical compounds that accumulate to high levels in harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and other cetaceans. It is important to monitor PCBs in wildlife, particularly in highly exposed populations to understand if concentrations are declining and how levels relate to toxicological thresholds and indices of health like infectious disease mortality. Here we show, using generalized additive models and tissue samples of 814 U.K.-stranded harbor porpoises collected between 1990 and 2017, that mean blubber PCB concentrations have fallen below the proposed thresholds for toxic effects. However, we found they are still associated with increased rates of infectious disease mortality such that an increase in PCB blubber concentrations of 1 mg kg–1 lipid corresponds with a 5% increase in risk of infectious disease mortality. Moreover, rates of decline and levels varied geographically, and the overall rate of decline is slow in comparison to other pollutants. We believe this is evidence of long-term preservation in the population and continued environmental contamination from diffuse sources. Our findings have serious implications for the management of PCB contamination in the U.K. and reinforce the need to prevent PCBs entering the marine environment to ensure that levels continue to decline.

The paper is available to read or download at:

If you have any questions or would like a copy please do not hesitate to contact me via email at rosie.williams at ioz.ac.uk<mailto:rosie.williams at ioz.ac.uk>

Kind regards,


Rosie Williams
Zoological Society of London & Brunel University London
Twitter: @RosieSWilliams1
Rosie Williams

PhD Student -  London NERC DTP
Brunel University & Zoological Society of London


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