Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) were sampled from artificial substrates deployed from May 30 to October 19, 1995, at 19 locks and dams from Minneapolis, MN, to Muscatine, IA. Analyses of composite tissue samples of zebra mussels (10-20-mm length) revealed accumulation of mercury(Hg), cadmium (Cd), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) during a 143-d exposure period. Concentrations of total Hg ranged from 2.6 to 6.1 ng/g wet weight and methylmercury (CH3Hg) from 1.0 to 3.3 ng/g wet weight. About 50% (range 30-70%) of the mean total Hg in zebra mussels was CH3Hg. Cadmium ranged from 76 to 213 ng/g wet weight. Concentrations of total PCBs (Aroclor 1254) in zebra mussels varied longitudinally (range 1000-7330 ng/g lipid weight), but the composition of PCB congeners (total of 21 measured) was similar throughout the river. Chlordane and dieldrin were the only two pesticides detected of the 15 analyzed. Zebra mussels are sentinels of contaminant bioavailability in the Upper Mississippi River and may be an important link in the trophic transfer of contaminants in the river because of their increasing importance in the diets of certain fish and waterfowl.
Additional publication details
Bioassessment of mercury, cadmium, polychlorinated biphenyls, and pesticides in the upper Mississippi River with zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha)