A potential organochlorine pesticide problem was identified near Mission, Texas, by the National Pesticide Monitoring Program. Fish samples from this site have consistently contained elevated levels of DDE since 1968. Surveys were made in 1976, 1978, and 1979 to determine the extent of organochlorine pesticide contamination in fishes and birds of the area. Freshwater fishes of the Arroyo Colorado, a major waterway traversing the lower Rio Grande Valley, were highly contaminated with DDE and toxaphene residues compared to samples from other areas in the Valley; both DDE and toxaphene ranged up to 31.5 ppm wet weight in whole-fish composite samples. In addition, median DDE residues in fish-eating bird carcasses from this area ranged up to 34 ppm wet weight, and 81 ppm in individual specimens. The levels of contaminants detected in fishes and birds were within, or above, the range producing adverse effects in certain species. The major sources of contamination to the Arroyo Colorado system likely stem from past and present use of persistent pesticides on surrounding croplands, and possibly from an abandoned pesticide plant at Mission, Texas.
Additional publication details
Elevated DDE and toxaphene residues in fishes and birds reflect local contamination in the lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas