Assimilation Efficiency of PBDE Congeners in Chinook Salmon

Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants are environmental contaminants that can accumulate in biota. PBDE accumulation in an organism depends on exposure, assimilation efficiency, and elimination/metabolism. Net assimilation efficiency represents the fraction of the contaminant that is retained in the organism after exposure. In the present study, congener-specific estimates of net PBDE assimilation efficiencies were calculated from dietary exposures of juvenile Chinook salmon. The fish were exposed to one to eight PBDE congeners up to 1500 ng total PBDEs/g food. Mean assimilation efficiencies varied from 0.32 to 0.50 for BDE congeners 28, 47, 99, 100, 153, and 154. The assimilation efficiency of BDE49 was significantly greater than 100%, suggesting biotransformation from higher brominated congeners. Whole body concentrations of BDE49 significantly increased with both exposure to increasing concentrations of BDE99 and decreasing fish lipid levels, implying lipid-influenced debromination of BDE99 to BDE49. Excluding BDE49, PBDE assimilation efficiency was not significantly related to the numbers of congeners in the diets, or congener hydrophobicity, but was greater in foods with higher lipid levels. Estimates of PBDE assimilation efficiency can be used in bioaccumulation models to assess threats from PBDE exposure to Chinook salmon health and recovery efforts, as well as to their predators.