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Open Lakes Trend Monitoring Program: Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)

Contact Information

For further information on the Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program, please contact:

Elizabeth Murphy (murphy.elizabeth@epa.gov)
Environmental Scientist
EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
(312) 353-4227 or 1-800-621-8431 x34227

Access the Data

Data produced by the GLFMSP can be obtained through the Great Lakes Environmental Database Query System or through the University of Illinois Extension website Exit EPA Disclaimer

You can also contact the program manager, Elizabeth Murphy, for information regarding the GLFMSP and/or supporting data.

Peer reviewed journal articles published using GLFMSP data can also be found on the Reports & Links page.

Mean PBDE47 concentration (ppb) in Lake Trout/Walleye from 2000 through 2009.

Mean PBDE47 concentration (ppb) in Lake Trout/Walleye from 2000 through 2009. (Click to enlarge)

Mean PBDE153 concentration (ppb) in Lake Trout/Walleye from 2000 through 2009.

Mean PBDE153 concentration (ppb) in Lake Trout/Walleye from 2000 through 2009. (Click to enlarge)

Mean ( stdev) penta-BDE concentrations in Great Lakes fish measured by Environment Canada, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Zhu & Hites (2004). Solid lines denote significant log-linear regressions. Dotted lines denote 3 year moving average when log-linear regression is not significant. (McGoldrick, D., Clark, M., and Murphy, E. 2012. "Contaminants in Whole Fish", In: U.S. EPA and Environment Canada. 2012. State of the Great Lakes 2012.) (Click to enlarge)

Concentrations of the dominant PBDE congeners (ng/g ww) in whole body Lake Trout and Walleye in each of the Great Lakes.

Concentrations of the dominant PBDE congeners (ng/g ww) in whole body Lake Trout and Walleye (U.S. EPA; Lake Erie) in each of the Great Lakes measured in 2009 relative to the Federal Environmental Quality Guidelines developed by Environment Canada (red dashed line). (Source: McGoldrick, D., Clark, M., and Murphy, E. 2012. "Contaminants in Whole Fish", In: U.S. EPA and Environment Canada. 2012. State of the Great Lakes 2012.) (Click to enlarge)

The production and use of three popular commercial formulations of PBDE have or are being voluntarily phased out by industry in North America. The phase out of the more toxic penta- and octa-BDE compounds started in 2004 and by 2012, the use of deca-BDE formulations will also cease.

Routine monitoring of PBDEs in whole top predator fish from the Great Lakes combined with retrospective analyses of archived samples by the U.S. EPA (SOLEC 2012) and Environment Canada have provided a complete picture of PBDE contamination in Great Lakes fish from 1977 to the present day. Concentrations of PBDEs in Lake Trout and Walleye rose continuously through to the early 2000s then began to decline as shown for penta-BDE in Figure 5. Log-linear regression of PBDE concentrations in Lake Trout and Walleye (U.S. EPA; Lake Erie), show significant declining trends of 5.8%/year for tetra-BDEs, 6.4% for penta-BDEs, and 3.4% for hexa-BDEs in Lake Ontario and annual declines of 19% for tetra-BDEs and 17% for penta-BDEs from Lake Michigan. PBDE concentrations in Lakes Superior, Huron, and Erie also appear to be declining as the slopes of the regressions are all negative; however, the slopes are not significantly different from zero at a = 0.05 with a power of 80%. The majority of tetra-BDE and all hexa-BDE concentrations reported for Lake Trout and Walleye in 2009 from all the Great Lakes are below Environment Canada's FEQGs; however, all measured penta-BDE concentrations are well above the FEQG of 1.0 ng/g ww.

GLFMSP PBDE publications:


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