American oysters as bioindicators of emerging organic contaminants in Florida, United States
By Leila Lemos, Laura Gantiva, Catherine Kaylor, Alessandra Sanchez, and Natalia Quinete
Sci Total Environ
April 26, 2022
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and phthalate esters (PAEs) are emerging contaminants of higher concern due to their wide industrial and commercial use, toxicity, and potential adverse health effects. In this study, we assessed PFAS and PAEs exposure in American oysters collected in three study sites in Florida, USA. Potential physiological effects of these contaminants were assessed by collecting oyster biometric data, calculating condition indices, and assessing oxidative stress levels in these individuals. Finally, a human health risk assessment was conducted based on the concentrations found in the consumable Tampa Bay (TB) oysters. All PFAS and PAEs compounds assessed in this study were detected in at least one oyster in all study sites. Among all locations, ΣPFAS concentration range was 0.611-134.78 ng·g and ΣPAEs <0.328-1021 ng·g. Despite the smaller size of Biscayne Bay (BB) oysters, they displayed the highest concentrations of most of the PFAS and PAEs compounds, which is likely associated with population size, and other sources in the area. Condition index (CI) III was smaller in BB oysters, likely indicating a stressed population. Even though BB oysters were the most affected individuals, Marco Island (MI) oysters displayed the highest levels of lipid peroxidation, which can also be associated with environmental factors and decreased food availability. Conversely, TB oysters exhibited the highest levels of hydrogen peroxide, likely indicating a better defense mechanism in TB oysters compared to MI oysters. The human health risk assessment for TB oysters indicated low risk from PFAS and PAEs exposure, but there is no reference dose for other compounds and the human diet is wider than only oysters. Therefore, the risk of contaminant exposure is likely higher. This study demonstrates the value of integrating data on contaminant exposure and physiological responses of bioindicator specimens to better understand how emerging contaminants are affecting marine wildlife.