The analysis of potential contaminants in biological tissues is an important part of many water-quality assessment programs, including the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. Tissue analyses often are used to provide information about (1) direct threats to ecosystem integrity, and (2) the occurrence and distribution of potential contaminants in the environment.
During 1992-93, Asiatic clam (Corbicula fluminea) soft tissues and whole redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus) samples were collected and analyzed to obtain information about the occurrence and distribution of organochlorine compounds in the Albemarle-Pamlico drainage Basin of North Carolina and Virginia. The investigation was conducted as part of the NAWQA Program.
Relatively few organochlorine compounds were detected and of the compounds detected, all were detected in relatively low concentrations. The organochlorine compounds detected were p,p'-DDD, p,p'-DDE, p,p'-DDT, dieldrin, trans-nonachlor, PCB's, and toxaphene. Multiple compounds were detected at 16 of 19 sites sampled. Compared to Asiatic clams, redbreast sunfish appear to be better bioindicators of organochlorine contamination in aquatic systems. Except for one detection of toxaphene, pesticide concentrations are well below the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering (NAS/NAE) guidelines for the protection of fish-eating wildlife.