Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Edward S. Van Vleet

Co-Major Professor

Foday M. Jaward


Core, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs), Spatial Distribution, Surface Sediments, Temporal Distribution,


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a widely used class of flame retardants that are important sources for contamination in the marine environment. Sediments serve as a large reservoir for PBDEs due to their large sorption capacity. This research assessed the presence and distribution of PBDEs in Hillsborough Bay, a subdivision of Tampa Bay, FL, by determining levels in surface sediment samples, creating a historical profile of the contaminant in a sediment core taken from within the bay, and investigating sediment characteristics that control their distribution. Compositional patterns and temporal distributions of 8 of the 209 congeners of PBDEs (BDE-28, -47, -99, -100, -153, -154, -183 and 209) were determined in sediment surface samples and a sediment core collected throughout the study area. Contaminant concentrations varied spatially due to proximity to sources and the spatial variability of physical processes that suspend or remove contaminants from the water column. Concentrations in the bay also varied in time with factors such as wind, precipitation, and subsequent freshwater runoff. PBDE contamination in surficial sediments from various regions of Tampa Bay is not well correlated with sediment grain size or organic matter content, but these factors may be more important in suspended sediments which may control the fate of these contaminants in the bay. The results from this investigation can be used in understanding the extent of PBDE pollution, identifying sources, as well as implementing management strategies for Hillsborough Bay.