Identification of key features relating to the coexistence mechanisms of trace elements and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in marine mammals

Yuan Liu, Qi Wang, Lan Ma, Linjie Jin, Kai Zhang, Danyang Tao, Wen Xiong Wang, Paul K.S. Lam, Yuefei Ruan

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Organic and inorganic substances coexist in the livers of marine mammals and may correlate with one another; however, their coexistence mechanisms and relevant key features remain largely unknown. In this study, temporal variations (2011–2021) in the concentrations of nine trace elements and 19 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the livers of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) and finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) were investigated. Interannual Cd in dolphins increased significantly whereas Pb concentrations decreased over the past decade (p < 0.05). Interannual levels of seven and four PFASs in dolphins and porpoises decreased significantly with time (p < 0.05). By further extending the timescale to 1993–2021, the sensitivity of trace elements to annual change further increased, whereas the sensitivity of PFASs remained relatively stable. Cu levels, similar to the majority of PFASs, were negatively correlated with the body length of the studied cetaceans, which led to positive correlations of Cu with six long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids, perfluorodecane sulfonic acid, and perfluoroethylcyclohexane sulfonic acid. The concentrations of trace elements in the cetacean liver were closely correlated with cetacean sex, species, and body length, whereas PFAS concentration was responsive to time-related features such as stranded season and year. By further employing a machine learning method, we demonstrated that body length and a time-related factor (year) played a crucial role in predicting the concentrations of certain trace elements and PFASs, respectively, particularly Cu and perfluoroheptanoic acid.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108099
JournalEnvironment International
Volume178
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Cetacean
  • Copper
  • Liver
  • Modeling
  • PFAS
  • Temporal trend

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