As part of the Lake St. Clair Regional Monitoring Project, the U.S. Geological Survey evaluated data collected from surficial streambed and lakebed sediments in the Lake Erie-Lake St. Clair drainages. This study incorporates data collected from 1990 through 2003 and focuses primarily on the U.S. part of the Lake St. Clair Basin, including Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, and tributaries to Lake St. Clair. Comparable data from the Canadian part of the study area are included where available. The data are compiled into 4 chemical classes and consist of 21 compounds. The data are compared to effects-based sediment-quality guidelines, where the Threshold Effect Level and Lowest Effect Level represent concentrations below which adverse effects on biota are not expected and the Probable Effect Level and Severe Effect Level represent concentrations above which adverse effects on biota are expected to be frequent.
Maps in the report show the spatial distribution of the sampling locations and illustrate the concentrations relative to the selected sediment-quality guidelines. These maps indicate that sediment samples from certain areas routinely had contaminant concentrations greater than the Threshold Effect Concentration or Lowest Effect Level. These locations are the upper reach of the St. Clair River, the main stem and mouth of the Clinton River, Big Beaver Creek, Red Run, and Paint Creek. Maps also indicated areas that routinely contained sediment contaminant concentrations that were greater than the Probable Effect Concentration or Severe Effect Level. These locations include the upper reach of the St. Clair River, the main stem and mouth of the Clinton River, Red Run, within direct tributaries along Lake St. Clair and in marinas within the lake, and within the Clinton River headwaters in Oakland County.
Although most samples collected within Lake St. Clair were from sites adjacent to the mouths of its tributaries, samples analyzed for trace-element concentrations were collected throughout the lake. The distribution of trace-element concentrations corresponded well with the results of a two-dimensional hydrodynamic model of flow patterns from the Clinton River into Lake St. Clair. The model was developed independent from the bed sediment analysis described in this report; yet it showed a zone of deposition for outflow from the Clinton River into Lake St. Clair that corresponded well with the spatial distribution of trace-element concentrations. This zone runs along the western shoreline of Lake St. Clair from L'Anse Creuse Bay to St. Clair Shores, Michigan and is reflected in the samples analyzed for mercury and cadmium.
Statistical summaries of the concentration data are presented for most contaminants, and selected statistics are compared to effects-based sediment-quality guidelines. Summaries were not computed for dieldrin, chlordane, hexachlorocyclohexane, lindane, and mirex because insufficient data are available for these contaminants. A statistical comparison showed that the median concentration for total DDT, hexachlorobenzene, anthracene, benz[a]anthracene, chrysene, and pyrene are greater than the Threshold Effect Concentration or Lowest Effect Level.
Probable Effect Concentration Quotients provide a mechanism for comparing the concentrations of contaminant mixtures against effects-based biota data. Probable Effect Concentration Quotients were calculated for individual samples and compared to effects-based toxicity ranges. The toxicity-range categories used in this study were nontoxic (quotients < 0.5) and toxic (quotients > 0.5). Of the 546 individual samples for which Probable Effect Concentration Quotients were calculated, 469 (86 percent) were categorized as being nontoxic and 77 (14 percent) were categorized as being toxic. Bed-sediment samples with toxic Probable Effect Concentration Quotients were collected from Paint Creek, Galloway Creek, the main stem of the Clinton River, Big Beaver Creek, Red
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Areal Distribution and Concentration of Contaminants of Concern in Surficial Streambed and Lakebed Sediments, Lake St. Clair and Tributaries, Michigan, 1990-2003