Organochlorine chemical residues in bluegills and common carp from the irrigated San Joaquin Valley Floor, California

  • Michael K. Saiki
  • Christopher J. Schmitt


Samples of bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) collected from the San Joaquin River and two tributaries (Merced River and Salt Slough) in California were analyzed for 21 organochlorine chemical residues by gas chromatography to determine if pesticide contamination was confined to downstream sites exposed to irrigated agriculture, or if nonirrigated upstream sites were also contaminated. Residues ofp,p′-DDE were detected in all samples of both species. Six other contaminants were also present in both species at one or more of the collection sites: chlordane (cis-chlordane +trans-nonachlor);p,p′-DDD;o,p′-DDT;p,p′-DDT; DCPA (dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate); and dieldrin. Concentrations of most of these residues were generally higher in carp than in bluegills; residues of other compounds were found only in carp: α-BHC (α-benzenehexachloride), Aroclor® 1260, and toxaphene. Concentrations of most organochlorines in fish increased from upstream to downstream. Water quality variables that are influenced by irrigation return flows (e.g., conductivity, turbidity, and total alkalinity) also increased from upstream to downstream and were significantly correlated (P < 0.05) with organochlorine residue levels in the fish. In carp, concentrations of two residues-⌆DDT (p,p′-DDD +p,p′-DDE + +p,p′-DDT; 1.43 to 2.21 mg/kg wet weight) and toxaphene (3.12 mg/kg wet weight)-approached the highest levels reported by the National Pesticide Monitoring Program for fish from other intensively farmed watersheds of the United States in 1980 to 1981, and surpassed criteria for whole-body residue concentrations recomended by the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineers for the protection of piscivorous wildlife.


Common Carp Dieldrin Water Quality Variable Chlordane DCPA 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael K. Saiki
    • 1
  • Christopher J. Schmitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Columbia National Fisheries Research LaboratoryU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceDixon

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