, Volume 150, Issue 1-4, pp 3-19
Date: 09 Dec 2008

Contaminants in fish tissue from US lakes and reservoirs: a national probabilistic study

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Abstract

An unequal probability design was used to develop national estimates for 268 persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals in fish tissue from lakes and reservoirs of the conterminous United States (excluding the Laurentian Great Lakes and Great Salt Lake). Predator (fillet) and bottom-dweller (whole body) composites were collected from 500 lakes selected randomly from the target population of 147,343 lakes in the lower 48 states. Each of these composite types comprised nationally representative samples whose results were extrapolated to the sampled population of an estimated 76,559 lakes for predators and 46,190 lakes for bottom dwellers. Mercury and PCBs were detected in all fish samples. Dioxins and furans were detected in 81% and 99% of predator and bottom-dweller samples, respectively. Cumulative frequency distributions showed that mercury concentrations exceeded the EPA 300 ppb mercury fish tissue criterion at nearly half of the lakes in the sampled population. Total PCB concentrations exceeded a 12 ppb human health risk-based consumption limit at nearly 17% of lakes, and dioxins and furans exceeded a 0.15 ppt (toxic equivalent or TEQ) risk-based threshold at nearly 8% of lakes in the sampled population. In contrast, 43 target chemicals were not detected in any samples. No detections were reported for nine organophosphate pesticides, one PCB congener, 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or 17 other semivolatile organic chemicals.