Th e delineation of lateral and vertical gradients of organic contaminants in lakes is hampered by low concentrations and nondetection of many organic compounds in water. Passive samplers (semipermeable membrane devices [SPMDs] and polar organic chemical integrative samplers [POCIS]) are well suited for assessing gradients because they can detect synthetic organic
compounds (SOCs) at pg L-1 concentrations. Semi-permeable membrane devices and POCIS were deployed in Lake Mead, at two sites in Las Vegas Wash, at four sites across Lake Mead, and in the Colorado River downstream from Hoover Dam. Concentrations of hydrophobic SOCs were highest in Las Vegas Wash downstream from waste water and urban inputs and at 8 m depth in Las Vegas Bay (LVB) where Las Vegas Wash enters Lake Mead. Th e distribution of hydrophobic SOCs showed a lateral distribution across 10 km of Lake Mead from LVB to Boulder Basin. To assess possible vertical gradients of SOCs, SPMDs were deployed at 4-m intervals in 18 m of water in LVB. Fragrances and legacy SOCs were found at the greatest concentrations at the deepest depth. Th e vertical gradient of SOCs indicated that contaminants were generally confi ned to within 6 m of the lake bottom during the deployment interval. The high SOC concentrations, warmer water temperatures, and higher total dissolved solids concentrations at depth are indicative of a plume of Las Vegas Wash water moving along the lake bottom. Th e lateral and vertical distribution of SOCs is discussed in the context of other studies that have shown impaired health of fi sh exposed to SOCs.
Additional publication details
Sources and distribution of organic compounds using passive samplers in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada and Arizona, and their implications for potential effects on aquatic biota.