Associations between contaminant exposure and liver and skin tumor prevalence were evaluated in brown bullheads (Ameiurus nebulosus) from the tidal Potomac River, USA, watershed. Thirty bullheads (>age 3) were collected from Quantico embayment near a Superfund site that released organochlorine contaminants; Neabsco Creek, a tributary with petroleum inputs from runoff and marinas; and Anacostia River (spring and fall), an urban tributary designated as a Chesapeake Bay region of concern, that was contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and organochlorine pesticides. Fish were collected from the Tuckahoe River, as a reference. Cytochrome P450 activity, bile PAH metabolites, and muscle organochlorine pesticide and PCB concentrations were measured in randomly selected individuals and sediment contaminants were analyzed. We found statistically significant differences in liver tumor prevalences: Anacostia (spring), 50%, Anacostia (fall), 60%, Neabsco, 17%, Quantico, 7%, and Tuckahoe, 10%. Skin tumor prevalences were significantly different: Anacostia (spring), 37%, Anacostia (fall), 10%, Neabsco, 3%, Quantico, 3%, and Tuckahoe, 0%. Tumor prevalences in Anacostia bullheads warrants concern and was similar to those as highly contaminated sites in the Great Lakes. Evidence was found of higher PAH exposure in Anacostia fish but a cause-effect linkage could not be established. Fish tumor surveys, with histopathologic examination of internal and external organs are recommended for monitoring the status of regions of concern.
Additional publication details
Tumor prevalence and biomarkers of exposure in brown bullheads (Ameiurus nebulosus) from the tidal Potomac River, USA, watershed