Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardant chemicals of toxicological concern present in humans, wildlife, and the environment. Deca-BDE is the highest production product due to historical use patterns and recent regulatory limitations on the other two commercial formulations (Penta-BDE and Octa-BDE) in the U.S and Europe. The EU banned Deca-BDE starting July 1, 2008. However, it remains in usage in North America and elsewhere in the world. BDE-209 is the dominant congener in all Deca- BDE commercial products. BDE-209 has been reported to under go metabolic debromination to lesser brominated and more toxic and bioaccumulative congeners. However, insufficient data are available on this process. It has also been observed that congener profiles and BDE-209 levels in terrestrial organisms differ from most aquatic species, indicating accumulation or metabolic dissimilarity. The goal of this in ovo study is to determine the biotransformation and tissue distribution of BDE-209 after injection into the yolk-sac of embryonic chickens. An emulsion formulation was employed to better distribute the hydrophobic BDE-209 within the eggs in an attempt to better mimic “natural” exposure of embryos. Acute mortality from BDE-209 yolk injection was observed. An LD50 value of 44 μg/egg (740 ng/g ww) was determined for embryonic chickens in this study. Concentrations of BDE-209 and possible metabolic degradates were determined in five compartments of the embryos (yolk, brain, liver, heart and remaining carcass). The results indicated that some BDE-209 was mobilized from the yolk, into the carcass, liver, brain, and heart tissues of the developing chicken embryo prior to pipping. However, 80% of the dose was detected as BDE-209 in the yolk sac. Additional BDE-209 would likely have been assimilated following hatching and resorption of the remaining yolk. Nona-BDEs were detected in all of the liver and yolk samples from BDE-209 exposed eggs. The congener profiles of the different tissues did not indicate that significant metabolic debromination of BDE-209 occurred within the developing embryos.



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