Four groups of thirty brown bullheads (Ameiurus nebulosus) were collected from the tidal Potomac River watershed to survey tumor prevalence in relation to contaminant exposure. Fish were obtained from the Quantico embayment, near a Superfund site that released polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and DDT compounds; Neabsco Creek,.a tributary with petroleum inputs from upstream areas and marinas; and the Anacostia River (both in spring and fall),where sediment is contaminated with polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), PCBs, and organochlorine pesticides. Fish were also collected from the Tuckahoe River, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, as a reference. Fish were necropsied and examined grossly and histopathologically for skin and liver neoplasms. Cytochrome P450 activity, bile PAH metabolites, and muscle organochlorine pesticide/PCB concentrations were determined in randomly selected individuals. There were significant differences among sites in liver tumor prevalence: Anacostia (spring)-50%, Anacostia (fall)-60%, Neabsco-17%, Quantico-7%, Tuckahoe-10%. Skin tumor prevalences were also significantly different: Anacostia (spring)-37%, Anacostia (fall)-10%, Neabsco-3%, Quantico-3%, Tuckahoe-0%. Tumor prevalences in Anacostia fish were comparable to those at contaminated sites in the Great Lakes. PAH concentrations were higher in Anacostia sediments than at the other sites and there were significantly higher concentrations of PAH metabolites in bile of the Anacostia fish. At present, there are insufficient data, however, to establish a cause-effect linkage with a particular class of contaminants. Tumor surveys in selected species are recommended for monitoring the status and remediation of Regions of Concern and other areas in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Additional publication details
Tumor Prevalence and Biomarkers of Exposure and Response in Brown Bullheads (Ameiurus nebulosus) from the Tidal Potomac River Watershed
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office