Flame Retardant Metabolites in Addled Bald Eagle Eggs from the Great Lakes Region

William A. Stubbings, Jiehong Guo, Kendall Simon, Kevin Romanak, William Bowerman, Marta Venier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organophosphate esters (OPEs) and other alternative flame retardants including 2-ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (EHTBB) and bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (BEHTBP) are ubiquitous in the Great Lakes region, having been detected in air, water, and biota samples. In a recent study, however, we showed that concentrations of six OPEs in eagle eggs were generally low (geometric mean 24 ng/g ww), and the two main Firemaster (FM) components, EHTBB and BEHTBP, were below limits of detection. We therefore hypothesized that the low levels of these compounds in bald eagles may be due to a potential rapid metabolic transformation. We measured metabolites of triaryl and trialkyl phosphates and brominated Firemaster (FM) flame retardants in 21 addled bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) eggs from 2000 to 2012 from the Michigan Bald Eagle Biosentinel Program archive. Sampling sites were divided into two groups: inland (IN) and Great Lakes (GL) based on breeding areas. Results suggest that the most abundant metabolites in the eggs are 2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoic acid (TBBA) (n.d. - 330 ng/g ww), bis(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (BCEP) (0.38-26 ng/g ww), and bis(2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate (BDBPP) (n.d. - 45 ng/g ww). Detection frequencies ranged from 67% for mono-(2-ethyhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBMEHP) to 100% for most of the other compounds. The relative abundances for these parent/metabolite pairs indicate that the majority of the OPEs can be readily metabolized at various rates, depending on the specific compound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-359
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 12 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this study was provided by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality under the Clean Michigan Initiative and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The authors gratefully acknowledge helpful and insightful discussions with Jonathan Karty (Indiana University, IN, USA), Mohamed A.-E. Abdallah (University of Birmingham, UK), and Syrago-Styliani E. Petropoulou (Department of Toxic Substances Control, CA, USA) on the development of the LC-MS/ MS method for OPE metabolites. Additionally, we thank Heather M. Stapleton (Duke University, NC, USA) for the generous donation of the 13C-DPhP standard synthesised at the Small Molecule Synthesis Facility at Duke University (Durham, NC). We also thank David Best with Fish and Wildlife Service, East Lansing, MI for his assistance in collection of the bald eagle eggs.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Chemical Society.


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