Spatial and temporal distribution of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) fillets from rivers in the Upper Mississippi River Basin upstream of the outlet of Lake Pepin are summarized. PCB concentrations in common carp and walleye fillets collected from rivers in the UMIS during 1975-95 by the Minnesota Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program (MFCMP) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) were analyzed. PCBs in fish tissue are of concern because PCBs are potentially toxic, teratogenic, and are linked to poor fetal development and endocrine disruption in fish and other animals including humans, that consume fish. This summary was part of an analysis of historical data for the Upper Mississippi River (UMIS) study unit of the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. The UMIS study unit is a 47,000 square-mile basin that includes the drainage of the Mississippi River upstream of the outlet of Lake Pepin and encompasses the Twin Cities metropolitan area. PCB concentrations for individual samples at all sites ranged from 0.07 to 33.0 milligrams per kilograms (mg/kg) for common carp and from 0.07 to 9.8 mg/kg for walleye during 1975-95. During 1975-79 and 1980-87, 10 and 4 percent of walleye samples and 45 and 36 percent of common carp samples, respectively, exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guideline of 2 mg/kg PCB in fish tissue. PCB concentrations in individual common carp and walleye samples were below 2 mg/kg after 1987. Median PCB concentrations at individual sites and within stream segments were generally greatest in common carp and walleye from Mississippi River segments in the TCMA during 1975-79 and 1980-87. There was a significant difference among lipid-normalized PCB (LNPCB) concentrations in common carp, considering all stream segments combined, during all three time periods (1975-79, 1980-87, and 1988-95). LNPCB concentrations in common carp and walleye at those stream segments upstream or outside the TCMA were generally lower than those in UMR segments within the TCMA. The spatial distribution of PCB and LNPCB concentrations in common carp and walleye correspond with historical point- and non point-source PCB inputs in the densely populated TCMA, and concentrations in fish were greater in areas that historically had elevated PCB concentrations in bed sediment. Median PCB concentrations in common carp and walleye at individual sites were greatest during 1975-79 and 1980-87, and least during 1988-95 at most sites. Most of the river segments exhibited over 80 percent decline in median PCB concentrations in common carp and walleye between the 1975-79 and 1988-95 time periods. The results from these temporal analyses were similar to those of other studies in the United States and in Minnesota and Wisconsin that reported a significant downward trend in PCB concentrations in fish. Although, PCB concentrations have decreased during 1975-95, low concentrations of PCBs still remain in the aquatic environment despite the fact that PCBs were banned nearly 20 years ago.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Water-Quality Assessment of the Upper Mississippi River Basin, Minnesota and Wisconsin - Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Common Carp and Walleye Fillets, 1975-95