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Esmarie Boyles

ejooste@siu.eduJooste photograph

Advisors: Dr. Clayton Nielsen and Dr. Da Chen

Terrestrial Mammalian Carnivores as Biological Indicators for Persistent Organic Pollutants

Among a variety of persistent organic pollutants, brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have attracted amounting environmental concerns. BFRs, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclododecane, and many others, are widely used as non-reactive additives in textiles, polyurethane foams, thermoplastics, and electronic products.. Since BFRs are not chemically bound to the polymers that contain them, a fraction may escape during production, use, disposal, and recycling processes. Consequently, they enter the environment. Given the persistence and lipophilicity of BFRs, they biomagnify in adipose tissue through various food webs. Top predators, such as terrestrial mammalian carnivores, are therefore particularly sensitive to the accumulation of these pollutants. In addition, carnivorous mammals are physiologically relatively similar to humans, therefore they are considered useful bioindicator species for environmental pollution. My study will evaluate the suitability of using terrestrial mammalian carnivores as biological indicators to detect the transfer of BFRs in a predator- prey food web. Other persistent organic pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorinated pesticides and herbicides, will also be studied.