Many Arctic animals carry high body burdens of organochlorine contaminants (OCs) as a result of long‐range transport of persistent pollutants. It has been shown that seasonal mobilization of body fat in these species results in increased blood concentration of OCs. The authors investigated OC assimilation, tissue distribution, and biotransformation in farmed Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) continuously fed a diet containing contaminated minke whale blubber or lard (control) from 8 wk of age in August 2003, until sampling when they were at their fattest (in November 2004) and leanest (in June 2005). Markedly higher tissue (liver, adrenals, brain, and blood) OC levels were found in June than in November despite low exposure to OCs during emaciation, suggesting that OCs had been redistributed from adipose tissues to vital organs. There were no differences in the activities of hepatic biotransforming enzymes between exposed fat and control fat foxes, except for 16α‐hydroxylation, which was higher in exposed fat foxes. In emaciated foxes, ethoxyresorufin activity was higher in exposed than in control foxes, indicating an enhanced potential for toxicity of OCs with emaciation. Lower activities of 6β‐ and 2β‐hydroxylation were found in lean than in fat foxes, irrespective of OC treatment. The results show that emaciation increase the toxic potential of accumulated OCs and emphasize that body adiposity must be considered when time‐trend analyses, risk assessments, and effect studies are designed. Environ Toxicol Chem 2013;9999:XX–XX. © 2013 SETAC
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