Samples of lake sediment, macrozoobenthos, and fish were collected during 1983 and 1984 near a coal ash disposal basin situated on the western shoreline of Lake Erie. Neutron activation analysis was used to determine if potentially toxic trace elements were present in higher concentrations at stations near the basin than at reference stations a few kilometers away.
Of the 29 trace elements examined, arsenic and cobalt were significantly (p <0.05) more concentrated in sediment nearest the coal ash basin except in spring, when little or no difference was detected. Arsenic and bromine were significantly higher in oligochaetes, and selenium was significantly higher in both oligochaetes and chironomids taken from proximal stations than in those taken from reference stations. Selenium, bromine, cobalt, nickel, and chromium were higher in young-of-the-year brown bullheads taken nearer the disposal basin in fall 1983. Selenium was higher in adult spottail shiners taken at the proximal station in spring 1984, and bromine was higher in yearling white bass from the proximal station in fall 1983 and 1984. None of the trace elements was higher in adult yellow perch or adult brown bullheads at any time. Fewer spottail shiners and yearling white bass were caught close to the disposal basin than far away, which may indicate avoidance by these fish of increased concentrations of trace elements contained within the ash effluent.