Organochlorine Contaminants in Herring Gull Eggs from the Great Lakes, 1974-1995: Change Point Regression Analysis and Short-Term Regression

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Abstract

The temporal trends (1974-1995) of 11 organochlorine contaminants in herring gull eggs from 13 colonies throughout the Great Lakes were statistically analyzed using two regression methods on logarithmically transformed data. Change point analysis was used to determine if there had been significant year to year fluctuations in contaminant levels and/or changes in long-term trends. Short-term regressions were conducted on 6 major compounds for two time periods (early 1990s and early 1980s) to compare the rates of decline. Overall, change point analyses indicated that for most of the comparisons (75%) there had been significant year to year fluctuations in contaminant levels. They also indicated that for most of the comparisons (67%) the rate of decline after the change point was as fast as or faster than before the change point, this pattern was most common for dieldrin and heptachlor epoxide at certain locations. In 19% of the comparisons the rates of decline had slowed or stabilized, this was most common for PCB and pentachlorobenzene. In 14% of the comparisons there were no significant temporal trends, this was most common for photomirex and mirex. Results for short-term regression showed that out of 78 comparisons for each time period, 5 (6%) were declining significantly in the early 1990s and 11 (14%) were declining significantly in the early 1980s. Both types of regression indicated that, for most of the herring gull egg contaminant database, recent logarithmic rates of decline were similar to those seen previously in the sampling period. For PCB 1254:1260, a group of compounds of particular toxicological importance, change point analyses indicated that the logarithmic rates of decline in herring gull eggs from western Lake Ontario were slower from 1987-1995 than they were from 1974-1986. At both Lake Superior colonies and the Niagara River colony PCB 1254:1260 concentrations ceased to decline in the mid-1980s. At the colony in Green Bay, Lake Michigan, PCB 1254:1260 levels have shown no significant temporal trend since 1976. At the remaining 8 colonies, PCB 1254:1260 levels continue a logarithmic decline in recent years at the same rate as or faster than previously.

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