Areal Distribution and Concentrations of Contaminants of Concern in Surficial Streambed and Lakebed Sediments, Lake Erie-Lake Saint Clair Drainages, 1990–97

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000–4200
By: , and 

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Abstract

Concerns about elevated concentrations of contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls and mercury in aquatic bed sediments throughout the Great Lakes Basin have resulted in a need for better understanding of the scope and severity of the problem. Various organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, trace metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are a concern because of their ability to persist and accumulate in aquatic sediments and their association with adverse aquatic biological effects. The areal distribution and concentrations in surficial bed sediments of 20 contaminants of concern with established bed-sediment-toxicity guidelines were examined in relation to their potential effects on freshwater aquatic biota. Contaminants at more than 800 sampling locations are characterized in this report. Surficial bed-sediment-quality data collected from 1990 to 1997 in the Lake Erie– Lake Saint Clair Drainages were evaluated to reflect recent conditions. In descending order, concentrations of total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenanthrene, total polychlorinated biphenyls, chrysene, benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, cadmium, lead, zinc, arsenic, and mercury were the contaminants that most commonly exceeded levels associated with probable adverse effects on aquatic benthic organisms. The highest concentrations of most of these contaminants in aquatic bed sediments are confined to the 12 specific geographic Areas of Concern identified in the 1987 Revisions to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1972. An exception is arsenic, which was detected at concentrations exceeding threshold effect levels at many locations outside Areas of Concern.

Suggested Citation

Rheaume, S. J., Button, D. T., Myers, D. N., and Hubbell, D. L., 2001, Areal distribution and concentrations of contaminants of concern in surficial streambed and lakebed sediments, Lake Erie-Lake Saint Clair drainages, 1990–97: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000–4200, 70 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/wri004200.

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Study methods
  • Areal distribution and concentrations of contaminants of concern in surficial bed sediments
  • Sediment contamination and potential impairments of aquatic life
  • Summary
  • References cited
  • Appendixes
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Areal distribution and concentrations of contaminants of concern in surficial streambed and lakebed sediments, Lake Erie-Lake Saint Clair drainages, 1990–97
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2000–4200
DOI 10.3133/wri004200
Year Published 2001
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Ohio Water Science Center
Description Report: viii, 60 p.
Country United States
State Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details