A consistent methodology for assessing the accumulating effects of natural and manmade change on riverine systems has not been developed for a whole host of reasons including a lack of data, disagreement over core elements to consider, and complexity. Accumulated state assessments of aquatic systems is an integral component of watershed cumulative effects assessment. The Yukon River is the largest free flowing river in the world and is the fourth largest drainage basin in North America, draining 855,000 km(2) in Canada and the United States. Because of its remote location, it is considered pristine but little is known about its cumulative state. This review identified 7 "hot spot" areas in the Yukon River Basin including Lake Laberge, Yukon River at Dawson City, the Charley and Yukon River confluence, Porcupine and Yukon River confluence, Yukon River at the Dalton Highway Bridge, Tolovana River near Tolovana, and Tanana River at Fairbanks. Climate change, natural stressors, and anthropogenic stresses have resulted in accumulating changes including measurable levels of contaminants in surface waters and fish tissues, fish and human disease, changes in surface hydrology, as well as shifts in biogeochemical loads. This article is the first integrated accumulated state assessment for the Yukon River basin based on a literature review. It is the first part of a 2-part series. The second article (Dubé et al. 2013a, this issue) is a quantitative accumulated state assessment of the Yukon River Basin where hot spots and hot moments are assessed outside of a "normal" range of variability.
The concentrations of butyltin (summation operatorBT=TBT+DBT+MBT) and mercury (Hg) were determined in the liver of 35 harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), which were found dead along the coastlines or caught as by-catch in the Danish North Sea and the Inner Danish waters. In addition, three harbour porpoises hunted in West Greenland were analysed. High levels of butyltin and mercury, within the range of 68-4605 mg BT/kg ww and 0.22-92 mg Hg/kg ww, were found in the liver of the Danish harbour porpoises and both substances tend to accumulate with age. The levels in the harbour porpoise from West Greenland were 2.0-18 mg BT/kg ww and 6.3-6.9 mg Hg/kg ww, respectively. The concentrations of butyltin and mercury were both found to be higher in stranded than in by-caught harbour porpoises but only the butyltin concentration was significantly higher in stranded porpoises in the age group 1-5 years. These substances are suspected of inducing adverse effects on immune and endocrine systems in mammals and they may thereby pose a threat to the animals. This study suggests that organotin compounds are also important, when assessing the risks of contaminants on the health and viability of harbour porpoises in Danish waters.
From 2000-2004 a monitoring study was conducted to evaluate the impacts of aluminum smelter-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on the health of fish in the marine waters of Kitimat, British Columbia, Canada. These waters are part of the historical fishing grounds of the Haisla First Nation, and since the 1950s the Alcan Primary Metal Company has operated an aluminum smelter at the head of the Kitimat Arm embayment. As a result, adjacent marine and estuarine sediments have been severely contaminated with a mixture of smelter-associated PAHs in the range of 10,000-100,000 ng/g dry wt. These concentrations are above those shown to cause adverse effects in fish exposed to PAHs in urban estuaries, but it was uncertain whether comparable effects would be seen at the Kitimat site due to limited bioavailability of smelter-derived PAHs. Over the 5-year study we conducted biennial collections of adult English sole (Parophrys vetulus) and sediment samples at the corresponding capture sites. Various tissue samples (e.g. liver, kidney, gonad, stomach contents) and bile were taken from each animal to determine levels of exposure and biological effects, and compare the uptake and toxicity of smelter-derived PAHs with urban mixtures of PAHs. Results showed significant intersite differences in concentrations of PAHs. Sole collected at sites nearest the smelter showed increased PAH exposure, as well as significantly higher prevalences of PAH-associated liver disease, compared to sites within Kitimat Arm that were more distant from the smelter. However, measures of PAH exposure (e.g., bile metabolites) were surprisingly high in sole from the reference sites outside of Kitimat Arm, though sediment and dietary PAHs at these sites were low, and fish from the areas showed no biological injury. PAH uptake, exposure, and biological effects in Kitimat English sole were relatively lower when compared to English sole collected from urban sites contaminated with PAH mixtures from other sources. These findings indicate that while smelter-associated PAHs in Kitimat Arm appear to be causing some injury to marine resources, they likely have reduced bioavailability, and thus reduced biological toxicity, compared to other environmental PAH mixtures.
The blue mussel (Mytilus sp.) has been used to assess the potential biological effects of the discharge effluent from the Omya Hustadmarmor mine, which releases its tailings into the Frænfjord near Molde, Norway. Chemical body burden and a suite of biological effects markers were measured in mussels positioned for 8?weeks at known distances from the discharge outlet. The biomarkers used included: condition index (CI); stress on stress (SoS); micronuclei formation (MN); acetylcholine esterase (AChE) inhibition, lipid peroxidation (LPO) and Neutral lipid (NL) accumulation. Methyl triethanol ammonium (MTA), a chemical marker for the esterquat based flotation chemical (FLOT2015), known to be used at the mine, was detected in mussels positioned 1500?m and 2000?m downstream from the discharge outlet. Overall the biological responses indicated an increased level of stress in mussels located closest to the discharge outlet. The same biomarkers (MN, SoS, NL) were responsible for the integrated biological response (IBR/n) of the two closest stations and indicates a response to a common point source. The integrated biological response index (IBR/n) reflected the expected level of exposure to the mine effluent, with the highest IBR/n calculated in mussels positioned closest to the discharge. Principal component analysis (PCA) also showed a clear separation between the mussel groups, with the most stressed mussels located closest to the mine tailing outlet. Although not one chemical factor could explain the increased stress on the mussels, highest metal (As, Co, Ni, Cd, Zn, Ag, Cu, Fe) and MTA concentrations were detected in the mussel group located closest to the mine discharge.
Remediation of storm-water polluted with heavy metals should be possible in percolation systems, ponds, or wetlands. The aim of this work was to find plant species for such systems that are efficient in the uptake of Zn, Cu, Cd, and Pb. Plants were collected from percolation and wetland areas and analyzed for heavy metal concentrations. Results showed that submersed and free-floating plants had the capacity to take up high levels of Cu, Zn, and Pb into their shoots. With roots having a concentration factor above 1, the terrestrial plants show efficient stabilization of Cd and Zn and emergent plants show corresponding stabilisation of Zn. In addition, Potamogeton natans, Alisma plantago-aquatica, and Filipendula ulmaria were used in a controlled experiment. The shoots of P. natans and the roots of A. plantago-aquatica were found to accumulate even higher concentrations of Zn, Cu, and Pb than found in the field-harvested plants. Similar results were found for Cd in shoots and Pb in roots of F. ulmaria. Our conclusion is that submersed plant species seem to be the most efficient for removal of heavy metals from storm-water.
Concentrations of total mercury ([THg]) and selenium ([TSe]) were measured in several tissue compartments in Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) pups; in addition we determined specific compartment and body burdens of THg. Compartmental and body burdens were calculated by multiplying specific compartment fresh weight by the [THg] (summing compartment burdens equals body burden). In all 6 pup tissue sets (1) highest [THg] was in hair, (2) lowest [THg] was in bone, and (3) pelt, muscle and liver burdens contributed the top three highest percentages of THg body burden. In 5 of 6 pups the Se:Hg molar ratios among compartments ranged from 0.9 to 43.0. The pup with the highest hair [THg] had Se:Hg molar ratios in 9 of 14 compartments that were ? 0.7 potentially indicating an inadequate [TSe] relative to [THg].
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Several strains belonging to genera Pseudomonas and Achromobacter and characterized by the ability to degrade anionic surfactants were tested as potential bases of microbial biosensors for surfactant detection. For each strain the substrate specificity and stability of sensor signals were studied. The total amount of the substrates tested (including carbohydrates, alcohols, aromatics, organic acids, etc.) was equal to 60; the maximal signals were observed towards the anionic surfactants. The lower limit of detection for sodium dodecyl sulfate used as a model surfactant was in the field of 1 microM for all the strains. The created microbial biosensor model can extend the practical possibilities for rapid evaluation of surfactants in water media.
Betula pendula (Silver birch) trees growing on two contaminated sites were evaluated to assess their capacity to phytoscreen and phytoremediate chlorinated aliphatic compounds and heavy metals. Both locations are industrially-contaminated properties in central Sweden. The first was the site of a trichloroethylene (TCE) spill in the 1980s while the second was polluted with heavy metals by burning industrial wastes. In both cases, sap and sapwood from Silver birch trees were collected and analyzed for either chlorinated aliphatic compounds or heavy metals. These results were compared to analyses of the surface soil, vadose zone pore air and groundwater. Silver birch demonstrated the potential to phytoscreen and possibly phytoremediate TCE and related compounds, but it did not demonstrate the ability to effectively phytoextract heavy metals when compared with hyperaccumulator plants. The capacity of Silver birch to phytoremediate TCE appears comparable to tree species that have been employed in field-scale TCE phytoremediation efforts, such as Populus spp. and Eucalyptus sideroxylon rosea.
Plastic debris acts as a sorbent phase for hydrophobic organic compounds like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Chemical partitioning models predict that the ingestion of microplastics with adsorbed chemicals in the field will tend not to result in significant net desorption of the chemical to the organism's tissues. This is expected due to the often limited differences in fugacity of the chemical between the indigestible plastic materials and the tissues, which are typically already exposed in the same environment to the same chemicals as the plastic. However laboratory trials validating these model predictions are scarce. In this study, PCB-loaded microplastics were offered to field-collected Norway lobsters (Nephrops norvegicus) during in vivo feeding laboratory experiments. Each ingestion experiment was repeated with and without loading a mixture of ten PCB congeners onto plastic microspheres (MS) made of polyethylene (PE) and polystyrene (PS) with diameters of either 500-600 µm or 6 µm. We observed that the presence of chemicals adsorbed to ingested microplastics did not lead to significant bioaccumulation of the chemicals in the exposed organisms. There was a limited uptake of PCBs in Nephrops tail tissue after ingestion of PCB-loaded PE MS, while almost no PCBs were detected in animals exposed to PS MS. In general, our results demonstrated that after 3 weeks of exposure the ingestion of plastic MS themselves did not affect the nutritional state of wild Nephrops.