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Alten Flagg, Moriah Shoshana
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Phthalates are a group of chemical compounds used extensively as commercial plasticizers and stabilizers in a variety of consumer goods, such as cosmetics and personal care products, detergents, and plastics like in food containers and packaging. These compounds are released into the environment during their manufacture, use, and disposal and they may pose a significant human and ecological health risk. Studies show that phthalates can be endocrine disruptors and have varied impacts on numerous species including altered reproductive physiology and developmental abnormalities. The bottlenose dolphin has been proposed to be an indicator of various anthropogenic pressures on coastal environments and a sentinel to overall long-term marine environmental quality. Bottlenose dolphins, especially those that reside year-round in a particular location, can be sensitive gauges of localized environmental contamination; therefore, measuring phthalate metabolite concentrations in these animals may indicate localized exposure risks. Previous studies have focused on quantifying phthalate concentrations in many marine species however, data for concentrations in bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, are lacking. To address this knowledge gap, concentrations of phthalate metabolites were measured in urine samples from seven bottlenose dolphins obtained during health assessments in Sarasota Bay, Florida in May 2016. Urinalysis was performed following de-glucuronidation, solid phase extraction, and detection by high performance liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectroscopy (HPLC-ESI-MS/MS). Significant levels of MEHP were detected in three urine samples at values ranging from 1.5-3.4 ng/mL and significant levels of MEP were detected in five urine samples at values ranging from 1.0-33.4 ng/mL. Future work will need to explore conjugation of phthalate monoesters in dolphin urine, and development of the analytical method for blubber.
Phthalates, Phthalate Metabolite, Bottlenose Dolphin, Endocrine Disruptor