Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Lisa McBride, New Mexico Highlands University

Class Year: 

Project Title: 

Bioaccumulation of Synthetic Musk Fragrances in Northern Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin terrapin) of Jamaica Bay, New York, USA


Synthetic musk fragrances are found in almost all scented personal care products. They have been measured in water, air, sewage sludge, and various biota all over the world. However, no studies have measured the maternal transfer of musk fragrances. The northern diamondback terrapin was selected as a bioindicator because of its long life span, high trophic level, high nest fidelity, and its ability to live across a wide salinity gradient. In this preliminary study we targeted one nitro-musk (musk xylene [MX]) and one polycyclic musk (galaxolide [HHCB]). We assessed their presence in eggs of terrapins inhabiting a contaminated site (Jamaica Bay, NY, USA) and compared those results to a less impacted site (United States Patuxent Naval Air Station along the Patuxent River in Maryland). We developed a method for extraction and used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to analyze these parent compounds in terrapin eggs. We found that MX maternally transferred to the offspring. Work is still being done to measure the accumulation of HHCB and quantify the concentration of the musk fragrances in individuals. This field-based study is the first step in assessing the degree of exposure of terrapin embryos to synthetic musk fragrances accumulated by their parents.

Recent Update: 
Environmental Health Technician, Albuquerque