Essential and non-essential elements in tissues of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) stranded on the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas between 2004–2006


This study on harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) stranded along the coasts of the Eastern North and Western Baltic Sea as well as in the river Elbe during 2004–2006, evaluated concentrations of 20 essential and non-essential elements (Ag, Al, As, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Li, Mg, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, Se, Sn, V, Zn) in liver and muscle samples. Tissue samples of 22 porpoises were taken during post-mortem investigations at the Research and Technology Centre (FTZ) in Büsum, Germany. A multi element method utilizing microwave accelerated acid digestion for sample preparation and collision/reaction cell inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (CC-ICP-MS) was used for element quantification. All 20 elements investigated could be determined in liver and muscle tissues except for Al in muscle samples. Furthermore the concentrations in liver tissues were higher compared to muscle tissues. While sex specific differences were observed only for Cu concentrations in liver tissue, age-dependent relationships were obtained for nine elements. Differences between juveniles and adults were found for Ag, Al, Co, Mn, Mo, Se, Sn, Pb, and V concentrations in liver, as well as Sn concentrations in muscle tissues. Furthermore, As and Sn concentrations in liver and muscle showed differences between the stranding locations. This multi-element study on harbour porpoises gives baseline information to concentrations of essential and non-essential elements in tissue to develop reference ranges for health status determination as well as the assessment of the pollutant body burden.
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