Oceanography, Graduate School of
Halogenated Natural Products; bioaccumulation; pollutants; Narragansett Bay
In recent decades, a new family of chemical compounds has begun to garner research attention—halogenated natural products, or HNPs. These chemicals are produced by algae, bacteria, worms, and sponges, and many are structurally similar to harmful manmade compounds, such as polychlorinated diphenyls (PCBs), or brominated flame retardants (PBDEs), which are known to cause cancer, reproduction issues, endocrine disruption, and death. While HNPs are produced naturally, they are still considered pollutants because of their bioaccumulative behavior and apparent toxicity.
Currently, there is limited research on their presence and effects, with a few studies from Europe and the Pacific highlighting their importance and promoting the need for further research. Additionally, recent research has suggested that HNP dynamics could be changing due to climate change and eutrophication. To date, HNPs have never been studied in Narragansett Bay; this project seeks to identify HNPs in biota from the Bay, in an initial effort to document the presence of these compounds in the Southern New England region.
Fish, mussel, and algae samples were collected from different salinity regimes throughout the Bay in the fall of 2016. Tissue samples were processed using accelerated solvent extraction, further purified using manual gel permeation chromatography and silica column chromatography, and analyzed using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Initial results suggest the presence of variable groups of HNPs in Narragansett Bay and resident biota. This is valuable insight that lays a strong foundation for further research to describe the distribution and possible impacts of these pollutants within temperate Atlantic estuarine environments.