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Organochlorine compounds and trace elements in fish tissue and streambed sediment in the Mobile River Basin, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, 1998

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2002-4160

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Abstract

During the summer of 1998, as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program, a survey was conducted to determine which organochlorine compounds and trace elements occur in fish tissues and streambed sediments in the Mobile River Basin, which includes parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee. The data collected were compared to guidelines related to wildlife, land use, and to 1991 and 1994 National Water-Quality Assessment Program Study-Unit data.Twenty-one sites were sampled in subbasins of the Mobile River Basin. The subbasins ranged in size from about 9 to 22,000 square miles and were dominated by either a single land use or a combination of land uses. The major land-use categories were urban, agriculture, and forest.Organochlorine compounds were widespread spatially in the Mobile River Basin. At least one organochlorine compound was reported at the majority of sampling sites (84 percent) and in a majority of whole-fish (80 percent) and streambed-sediment (52 percent) samples. Multiple organochlorine compounds were reported at 75 percent of the sites where fish tissues were collected and were reported at many of the streambed-sediment sampling sites (45 percent). The majority of concentrations reported, however, were less than 5 micrograms per kilogram in fish-tissue samples and less than 1 microgram per kilogram in streambed-sediment samples.The majority of trace elements analyzed in fish-liver tissue (86 percent) and streambed-sediment (98 percent) samples were reported during this study. Multiple trace elements were reported in all samples and at all sites.Based on comparisons of concentrations of organochlorine compounds and trace elements in fish-tissue and streambed-sediment samples in relation to National Academy of Science and National Academy of Engineering and Canadian tissue guidelines, probable-effects concentrations, and mean probable-effects concentration quotients for streambed sediment, the potential exists for adverse effects to wildlife at 15 (72 percent) of the sites sampled. The potential for adverse effects at these sites is because of the presence of residues or breakdown products related to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB?s), chlordane, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), chromium, lead, and zinc.The majority of compounds reported (65 percent) were chlordane, DDT, and PCB?s, or their breakdown products. Concentrations of chlordane and heptachlor epoxide in whole-fish tissue were positively correlated to the amount of urban land use in a basin. Total DDT concentrations in whole-fish tissues were positively correlated to agriculture.The relation of trace elements to land use is not as clear as the relation of organochlorine compounds to land use. This lack of clarity may be due to the possibility of geologic sources of trace elements in the Mobile River Basin and to the ubiquitous nature of many of these trace elements. However, there may be a correlation between the amount of urban land use and concentrations of antimony, cadmium, lead, and zinc in streambed-sediment samples from the Mobile River Basin.Fewer organochlorine compounds and trace elements were reported in samples from the Mobile River Basin than in samples collected during the 1991 and 1994 National Water-Quality Assessment Program studies. Of the organochlorine compounds analyzed nationally, 57 percent were reported in whole-fish tissue samples collected locally and 41 percent were reported in streambed-sediment samples collected locally, whereas 96 percent and 86 percent, respectively, were reported nationally. Of trace elements analyzed nationally, 86 percent were reported in fish-liver tissue locally and 95 percent were reported in streambed-sediment samples locally, whereas 95 percent and 98 percent, respectively, were reported nationally.In general, concentrations of organochlorine compounds and trace elements and the frequency with which they were reported in the Mobile River Basin are similar to or less than t

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Organochlorine compounds and trace elements in fish tissue and streambed sediment in the Mobile River Basin, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, 1998
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2002-4160
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2002
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
viii, 85 p. : col. ill., col maps ; 28 cm.