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Geographical Distribution and Potential for Adverse Biological Effects of Selected Trace Elements and Organic Compounds in Streambed Sediment in the Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames River Basins, 1992-94

Water Resources Investigations Report 97-4169

By Robert F. Breault and Sandra L. Harris 

ABSTRACT

      Streambed-sediment samples were collected in 1992-94 at selected sites in the Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames River Basins to determine the geographical distribution of trace elements and organic compounds and their potential for adverse biological effects on aquatic organisms. Chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, zinc, chlordane, DDT, PAHs, and PCBs were detected in samples from throughout the basins, but concentrations of these constituents generally were lowest in the northern forested drainage basins and highest in the southern urbanized drainage basins of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport, Connecticut. Possible anthropogenic sources of these contaminants include industrial effluent; municipal wastewater; runoff from agricultural, urban and forested areas; and atmospheric deposition. Some organic compounds pose the greatest threat to biological organisms in terms of exceedances of sediment-quality guidelines; those compounds are present at sufficiently high concentrations to potentially cause severe effects at several locations in the basins.

 

Some trace elements represent the most geographically widespread threat to living organisms. These exceed sediment-quality guidelines over a wider geographical area, although usually by lower ratios of contaminant concentration to sediment-quality guideline than the organic compounds.

CONTENTS

Abstract

Introduction

Geographical Distribution of Selected Trace Elements and Organic Compounds

Trace Elements

Organic Compounds

Factors Contributing to Distribution of Contamination

Point Sources

Non-Point Sources

Sediment Transport

Comparison of Point and Non-Point Source Contributions to Streambed-Sediment Concentrations

Persistence of Contaminants

Potential for Adverse Biological Effects

Trace Element

Organic Compounds

Synergistic Effects of Contaminants

Bioaccumulation in Fish Tissue

Potential Human Health Impacts--Fish Consumption Advisories

Summary

References Cited

FIGURES

1-4. Maps showing:

  1. Topographic shaded relief map of the Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames River Basins
  2. Generalized land use
  3. Population density by town, 1990
  4. 4. Location of streambed-sediment sampling sites

5, 6 Graphs showing:

  1. Geographic distribution of selected trace-element concentrations, 1992-94
  2. Geographic distribution of selected organic-compound concentrations, 1992-94

7-10. Maps showing:

  1. Geographic distribution of permitted surface-water dischargers with discharge volumes greater than 1 million gallons per day, 1992-94
  2. Geographic distribution of PCB concentrations sorbed to bottom sediments and the location of major dams on the East Branch and mainstem Housatonic Rivers, 1992-94
  3. Potential frequency of adverse effects on benthic organisms relative to trace-element concentrations in streambed sediments, 1992-94
  4. Potential frequency of adverse effects on benthic organisms relative to organic-compound concentrations in streambed sediments, 1992-94
  5. Graph showing concentrations of total chlordane, total DDT, and total PCB of white suckers and streambed sediments sampled at the same location, 1992-94

TABLES

  1. Streambed-sediment sampling sites in the Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames River Basins, 1992-94
  2. Statistical summary of trace-element concentrations in streambed sediment in the Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames River Basins, 1992-94
  3. Statistical summary of organic-compound concentrations in streambed sediment in the Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames River Basins, 1992-94
  4. Streambed-sediment-quality guidelines and their relation to the potential frequency of adverse effects on benthic organisms

 

AVAILABILITY

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Full report(5,506 KB)-31 pages
Title and foreword(238 KB) - 5 pages
Contents (19 KB) - 2 pages
Report (5,278 KB) - 24 pages

 

 

 





U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last modified: Friday, September 16 2005, 04:22:27 PM
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