Assessment of the toxic potential of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) affecting Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus) harvested from waters impacted by the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill

Gregory M Olson, Buffy M Meyer, Ralph J Portier
Chemosphere 2016, 145: 322-8
Approximately 4.9 million barrels of crude oil and gas were released into the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) from April to July 2010 during the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) spill. This resulted in the possible contamination of marine organisms with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), USEPA identified constituents of concern. To determine the impact of the DWH oil spill, Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus), a commercially harvested and significant trophic grazing species, was sampled from two Louisiana coastal regions between the years 2011-2013. Tissue extraction and GC/MS analysis demonstrated measurable concentrations of PAH within menhaden. Analysis yielded total PAHs, carcinogenic equivalents (BaP-TEQ), and mutagenic equivalents (BaP-MEQ) which provided an initial toxic potential assessment of this GoM Fishery. Gulf menhaden contained less total PAH concentrations in 2012 and significantly less in 2013 as compared to 2011 (p < 0.05) ranging from 7 ug/g tissue dry weight to 3 ng/g tissue dry weight. Carcinogenic and mutagenic PAHs were also significantly reduced (p < 0.05) over the three year period. The reduction of total PAH concentrations and the reduction of BaP-TEQs and MEQs between 2011 and 2013 indicates a diminished input of new source PAHs along with a reduction of carcinogenic and mutagenic PAHs in menhaden populations. The use of Gulf menhaden was successful in determining the acute toxic potential of PAHs contaminating the GoM in the years directly following the DWH spill event.

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