, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 748-781

National contaminant biomonitoring program: Residues of organochlorine chemicals in U.S. Freshwater Fish, 1976–1984

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Abstract

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service periodically determines concentrations of organochlorine chemicals in freshwater fish collected from a nationwide network of stations as part of the National Contaminant Biomonitoring Program (NCBP, formerly a part of the National Pesticide Monitoring Program). From late 1984 to early 1985, a total of 321 composite fish samples were collected from 112 stations and analyzed for organochlorine chemical residues. The mean concentrations of total DDT did not change from 1980–81 to 1984, following a period of steady decline through the 1970's; however, the mean concentrations ofp,p′-DDT declined significantly. The most persistent DDT homolog (p,p′-DDE) was detected at 98% of the stations sampled in 1984, and constituted 73% of total DDT residues, up from 70% in 1974–79. Collectively, these findings indicate a low rate of influx and continued weathering of DDT in the environment. Residues of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) also remained widespread, but a significant downward trend in total PCBs was evident, and early eluting PCB components were present at fewer stations than in the past. Mean concentrations of dieldrin have not changed since 1978–79; concentrations remained highest in Hawaii and in the Great Lakes. Toxaphene concentrations declined from 1980–81 to 1984, especially in the Great Lakes, and the incidence of toxaphene declined from 88% of the stations sampled in 1980–81 to 69% in 1984. Mean chordane concentrations did not change from 1980–81 to 1984, following a period of decline; however,trans-nonachlor replacedcis-chlordane as the most abundant component, suggesting a lower influx of chlordane to the aquatic environment. Residues of other organochlorines—mirex, pentachloroanisole (PCA), benzene hexachloride (BHC) isomers, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and Dacthal® (DCPA)—were either found at relatively few (<25%) of the stations sampled in 1984 or were characterized by relatively low concentrations. In general, organochlorine concentrations were lower in 1984 than at any time reported previously.