Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 17, pp 16933–16944 | Cite as

Contrasting congener profiles for persistent organic pollutants and PAH monitoring in European storm petrels (Hydrobates pelagicus) breeding in Ireland: a preen oil versus feathers approach

  • Heidi Acampora
  • Philip White
  • Olga Lyashevska
  • Ian O’Connor
Research Article


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are anthropogenic contaminants of environmental concern due to their persistence in the environment and capacity to accumulate in biota. Many of these contaminants have been found to have ill effects over wildlife and humans. Birds are known to be particularly affected through endocrine disruption and eggshell thinning. POPs have been banned or restricted through the Stockholm Convention (2001), making monitoring essential for tracking effects of regulation. Seabirds have been used as monitoring tools for being top predators and consuming a diverse array of prey in different trophic levels. Non-destructive sampling has become widely popular using feathers and preen oil, as opposed to carcasses and internal organs. This study aimed to set baseline levels of POP and PAH concentration in a highly pelagic and abundant seabird in Ireland and the Atlantic, the European storm petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus, and to investigate the profiles of contaminant congeners in preen oil and feathers, comparatively. Mean concentrations in preen oil followed: PCB (10.1 ng/g ww) > PAH (7.1 ng/g ww) > OCP (5.4 ng/g ww) > PBDE (3.9 ng/g ww), whilst mean concentrations in feathers followed the order: PAH (38.9 ng/g ww) > PCB (27.2 ng/g ww) > OCP (17.9 ng/g ww) > PBDE (4.5 ng/g ww). Congener profiles highly differed between preen oil and feathers, and little correlation was found between the matrices. These results demonstrate that the sampling of a single matrix alone (preen oil or feathers) might produce confounding results on contamination in seabirds and that more than one matrix is recommended to obtain a full picture of contamination by persistent organic pollutants.


Persistent organic pollutants European storm petrel POPs PCBs PAHs OCPs PBDEs 



This work was supported by Science Without Borders (CAPES, Brazil, BEX: 1269-13-5). Many thanks to BirdWatch Ireland. Thanks to Niall Keogh and Declan Manley for assistance in the field. Thanks to Danilo Hirota, Killian Coakley and Bill Delee for assistance in the lab.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_1844_MOESM1_ESM.docx (37 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 36 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine and Freshwater Research CentreGalway-Mayo Institute of TechnologyGalwayIreland

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