On 14 May 1994, tadpoles were collected from Lateral Pond and Municipal Lake in Bryan, Texas. These waters are immediately downstream from Finfeather Lake which was directly contaminated during 53 years of industrial production of arsenic (As)-based cotton defoliants. The tadpoles contained elevated levels of arsenic, chromium (Cr) and zinc (Zn). As far as it is known, the mean concentrations of As (6.87 p.p.m. wet weight) and Cr (6.91 p.p.m. wet weight) in cricket frog (Acris crepitans) tadpoles were the highest ever reported in tadpoles. The Zn in the tadpoles exceeded the levels found in sediments by six to 11 times. The concentrations of As, Cr and Zn in Finfeather Lake in 1994 may have been toxic because tadpoles could not be found there. Ranid tadpoles and a newly transformed ranid frog found dead in Lateral Pond and Municipal Lake in 1994 may indicate that the elements reached toxic levels in some individual amphibians. The concentrations of As, Cr and Zn found in the tadpoles in this study might be toxic to predators. Mortality of turtles showing symptoms linked to chronic exposure to As was reported in Finfeather Lake in 1973. Turtles were not reported in Finfeather Lake again until 1996. Observations at Municipal Lake in 1994-1996 showed abundant tadpoles and turtles but no snakes, which also have not been seen at Finfeather Lake. This absence of snakes may indicate that their sensitivity or exposure to the existing contaminants is greater than that of frogs and turtles.
Additional publication details
Uptake of arsenic and metals by tadpoles at an historically contaminated Texas site