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Limited reproductive impairment in a passerine bird species exposed along a perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) pollution gradient
Groffen, T; Lasters, R; Lopez-Antia, A; Prinsen, E; Bervoets, L; Eens, M
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Science of the Total Environment
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Although bird eggs have been used in biomonitoring studies on perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), effects of environmental concentrations on reproduction remain largely unknown in wild birds. In the present study we examined the associations between the concentrations of 4 perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFSAs) and 11 perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) in the eggs of great tits (Parus major), collected along a distance gradient from a pollution source, and multiple reproductive parameters (including the start of egg laying, clutch size, hatching success, fledging success and total breeding success) along with egg shell thickness and body condition of the nestlings.
The PFAA concentrations measured at the plant site were among the highest ever reported in wild bird eggs. PFAA concentrations decreased sharply with increasing distance (0–11 km) from the plant, but remained relatively elevated in the adjacent sites. PFAAs were grouped into principal components (PCs) to prevent collinearity. High concentrations of PFOS, PFDS, PFDoDA, PFTrDA and PFTeDA (grouped as PC1) were associated with a reduced hatching success of nests where at least one egg hatched, thinner egg shells and increased survival of the hatched chicks. High concentrations of PFDA (PC2) were associated with a reduced hatching success, especially in nests where no eggs hatched, an earlier start of egg laying and a reduction of total breeding success, mainly caused by the failure in hatching.
Although the major manufacturer of PFAAs phased out the production of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and related products in 2002, concentrations appear to have increased since previous measurements. Surprisingly, despite the very high concentrations close to the fluorochemical plant, there was no clear evidence for reproductive impairment as the observed associations between PFAA concentrations and reproductive parameters were rather limited compared to previous studies in songbirds. These findings also suggest potential differences in sensitivity between species.
Despite the very high PFAA concentrations at the perfluorochemical hotspot, correlations with reproductive parameters were limited.
Perfluoroalkyl acids; PFOS; Birds; Eggs; Belgium; Reproductive impairment
Literature Search Update 5/2019
PFOA (335-67-1) and PFOS (1763-23-1)
Literature Search Update (2013-2019)
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