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Open-File Report 2008–1231


Publications Warehouse OFR 2008–1231

Prepared in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Reconnaissance of Persistent and Emerging Contaminants in the Shenandoah and James River Basins, Virginia, During Spring of 2007

By David Alvarez1, Walter Cranor1, Stephanie Perkins1, Vickie Schroeder2, Stephen Werner3, Edward Furlong3, Donald Kain4, and Robert Brent4

1 U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, Missouri 65201.
2 Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, Missouri 65201.
3 U.S. Geological Survey, National Water Quality Laboratory, Denver, Colorado 80225.
4 Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Valley Regional Office, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801.


OFR 2008-1231 Contents | Citation

Abstract

Fish exhibiting external lesions, incidences of intersex, and death have recently been observed in the Shenandoah and James River Basins. These basins are characterized by widespread agriculture (intensive in some areas), several major industrial discharges, numerous sewage treatment plant discharges, and urban, transportation, and residential growth that has increased rapidly in recent years. Nine locations in the Shenandoah River Basin, Virginia, and two in the James River Basin, Virginia, were selected for study in an attempt to identify chemicals that may have contributed to the declining fish health. Two passive sampling devices, semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) and polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS), were deployed during the spring and early summer of 2007 to measure select organic contaminants to which fish may have been exposed. This study determined that concentrations of persistent hydrophobic contaminants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (<17,000 picograms per liter), legacy pesticides (<510 picograms per liter), and polychlorinated biphenyls (<1,600 picograms per liter) were generally low and indicative of a largely agricultural area. Chlorpyrifos, endosulfan, and lindane were the most commonly detected chlorinated pesticides. Atrazine, which was detected at concentrations much greater than other pesticides associated with agricultural use, ranged from <0.18 to 430 nanograms per liter during the deployment period. Few chemicals characteristic of wastewater treatment plant effluent or septic tank discharges were detected. The fragrance components, galaxolide, indole, and tonalide, were the predominant waste indicator chemicals detected. Caffeine, the caffeine metabolite 1,7-dimethylxanthine, the nicotine metabolite cotinine, and the prescription pharmaceuticals carbamazepine, venlafaxine, and trimethoprim were detected at several sites. Natural and synthetic hormones were detected at a few sites with 17α-ethynylestradiol concentrations esimated up to 8.1 nanograms per liter. Screening of the POCIS extracts for estrogenic chemicals by using the yeast estrogen screen revealed estrogenicity similar to levels reported for rural areas with minor effect from wastewater effluents.
Posted July 2008

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Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Methodology

Passive Sampler Construction

Sampling Sites and Field Deployment

Sample Processing and Chemical Analysis

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Organochlorine (OC) Pesticides and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Agricultural Pesticides

Waste Indicator Chemicals

Pharmaceuticals

Hormones

Yeast Estrogen Screen (YES Assay)

Quality Control (QC)

Estimation of Ambient Water Concentrations

Results and Discussion

Chemical Analyses

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Organochlorine (OC) Pesticides and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Agricultural Pesticides

Waste Indicator Chemicals

Pharmaceuticals

Hormones

Yeast Estrogen Screen (YES Assay)

Acknowledgements

References Cited

Report Citation:

Alvarez, D.A., Cranor, W.L., Perkins, S.D., Schroeder, V.L., Werner, S.L., Furlong, E.T., Kain, D., and Brent, R., 2008, Reconnaissance of persistent and emerging contaminants in the Shenandoah and James River Basins, Virginia, during Spring of 2007: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008–1231, 19 p.

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