Skip to main content
Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Spatial and Temporal Trends of Perfluorinated Compounds in Beluga Whales from Alaska

January 01, 2010

In this study, scientists analyzed beluga whale livers for PFCs to determine if temporal trends exists between PFC concentrations from two groups of belugas and to speculate the different sources of PFCs. They also examined geographical differences, gender differences in two locations, and possible bioaccumulation of PFCs.

Wildlife from remote locations have been shown to bioaccumulate perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in their tissues. Twelve PFCs, consisting of perfluorinated carboxylic (PFCA) and sulfonic (PFSA) acids as well as the perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) precursor perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA), were measured in livers of 68 beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) collected from two subpopulations, Cook Inlet and eastern Chukchi Sea, in Alaska between 1989 and 2006. PFOS and PFOSA were the dominant compounds measured in both beluga stock populations, with overall median concentrations of 10.8 ng/g and 22.8 ng/g, respectively. Long chain perfluorocarboxylates, PFCAs (9 to 14 carbons), were detected in more than 80% of the samples. Perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnA) and perfluorotridecanoicacid (PFTriA) made up a large percentage of the PFCAs measured with median concentrations of 8.49 ng/g and 4.38 ng/g, respectively. To compare differences in location, year, sex, and length, backward stepwise multiple regression models of the individual and total PFC concentrations were used. Spatially, the Cook Inlet belugas had higher concentrations of most PFCAs and PFOS (p < 0.05); however, these belugas had a lower median concentration of PFOSA when compared to belugas from the eastern Chukchi Sea (p < 0.05). Temporal trends indicated most PFCAs, PFHxS, PFOS,and PFOSA concentrations increased from 1989 to 2006 (p < 0.05). Males had significantly higher concentrations of PFTriA, ΣPFCA,and PFOS (p < 0.05). Perfluorononanic acid (PFNA)and PFOS showed a significant decrease in concentration with increasing animal length (p < 0.05). These observations suggest the accumulation of PFCs in belugas is influenced by year, location, sex, and length.


Jessica L. Reiner, Steven G. O'Connell, Amanda J. Moors, John R. Kucklick, Paul R. Becker, and Jennifer M. Keller. Published in Environmental Science & Technology.

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 03/06/2019

Cook Inlet Beluga Whale