Contamination of some aquatic species with the organochlorine pesticide chlordecone in Martinique

Coat, S.; Bocquene, G.; Godard, E.

Aquatic Living Resources 19(2): 181-187


ISSN/ISBN: 0990-7440
DOI: 10.1051/alr:2006016
Accession: 066195647

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Martinique is a French overseas department whose economy relies heavily on agriculture. Organochlorine pesticides, mainly chlordecone, were used for banana cultivation to eradicate banana weevil over a period of 40 years. Chlordecone is chemically stable,and has a strong affinity for fatty tissues. It is therefore able to bioaccumulate in animals and thereby represent a threat to ecosystems and man. Soils from banana plantations in Martinique are heavily contaminated with chlordecone. Possible transfer of these molecules from agricultural watersheds to the aquatic environment and the organisms that live in it is feared. The hypothesis that ecosystems of Martinique might be highly contaminated with this organochlorine pesticide was investigated. Chlordecone levels were measured in various freshwater and marine species. Data show a heavy contamination of many carnivorous and detritivorous species (fish and prawns). Concentrations measured in wild or farmed tilapia are among the highest ever reported in the literature. Some coastal species (fish and lobster) were also found to be contaminated, although to a lesser extent. Given the biogeochemical behavior of chlordecone, the most likely route of contamination is food. Detected concentrations in marine organisms are below the tolerated limits established by authorities. however. the impact of other sources of exposure, namely, contaminated water and root vegetables, remains to be investigated.