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Scientific Investigations Report 2008–5198

Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Fisheries: Aquatic and Endangered Resources Program
Contaminant Biology Program

Prepared in cooperation with the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Prevalence of Tumors in Brown Bullhead from Three Lakes in Southeastern Massachusetts, 2002

By Paul C. Baumann1, Denis R. LeBlanc1, Vicki S. Blazer1, John R. Meier3, Stephen T. Hurley2, and Yasu Kiryu1

1 U.S. Geological Survey
2 Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio

ABSTRACT

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The Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) has been a military base on western Cape Cod since the early 1900s. Contaminated surface water and ground water from the MMR have discharged into several kettle lakes on or near the base. To discover whether the prevalences of tumors and other lesions in brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) in these lakes, particularly Ashumet Pond, were elevated above normal, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), assisted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MADFW), conducted a study in 2002 of brown bullhead in Ashumet Pond and in two reference lakes, Santuit Pond (on Cape Cod) and Great Herring Pond (on the mainland of Massachusetts). Brown bullhead from Great Herring Pond had few external raised lesions (2.8 percent), a low prevalence of liver neoplasms (5 percent), and little genetic damage to their red blood cell nuclei. Brown bullhead from Ashumet Pond had a high prevalence of raised lesions (62.1 percent), which included histopathologically verified papillomas and squamous carcinoma; an elevated incidence of liver neoplasms (16.7 percent); and an elevated level of genetic damage to their red blood cell nuclei. Because red blood cells in fish have a lifespan of about 100 days, these results indicate an ongoing exposure to genotoxins in Ashumet Pond. Brown bullhead from Santuit Pond also had elevated prevalences of raised lesions (48.3 percent) and liver neoplasms (15 percent), although the prevalences of large and multiple lesions were significantly lower than those in fish from Ashumet Pond. These differences may indicate differing causes of pathology in the two lakes. The high prevalence of melanistic lesions on brown bullhead from Ashumet Pond, combined with the tumor pathology and genetic damage, implicates chemical carcinogens as one of the causal factors in that lake.

For additional information contact:
Director
U.S. Geological Survey
Massachusetts-Rhode Island Water Science Center
10 Bearfoot Road
Northborough, MA 01532
http://ma.water.usgs.gov

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Suggested citation:

Baumann, P.C., LeBlanc, D.R., Blazer, V.S., Meier, J.R., Hurley, S.T., and Kiryu, Yasu, 2008, Prevalence of tumors in brown bullhead from three lakes in southeastern Massachusetts, 2002: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008–5198, 43 p., available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2008/5198.



Contents

Abstract
Introduction

Biology of the Brown Bullhead

Geographic and Hydrologic Setting

Previous Studies of Tumor Prevalence

Lake Selection and Field and Laboratory Methods

Lake Selection and Characteristics

Field Collection Methods

External Examination, Blood Sampling, and Necropsy

Histopathology

Age Estimation

Blood Analysis by Comet Assays

Statistical Methods

Prevalence of Tumors in Brown Bullhead

Size and Age Distributions

Prevalence of External Raised Lesions

Prevalence of Barbel Deformities

Histopathology of External Lesions

Histopathology of the Liver, Spleen, and Kidney

Hepatosomatic Index

DNA Damage in Red Blood Cells

Discussion

Summary

Acknowledgments

References Cited

Glossary

Appendix 1. Selected Characteristics of Brown Bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) Collected from Ashumet, Santuit, and Great Herring Ponds, Southeastern Massachusetts, and Examined Externally in the Field, May–July 2002

Appendix 2. Selected Characteristics of Brown Bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) Collected from Ashumet, Santuit, and Great Herring Ponds, Southeastern Massachusetts, and Necropsied for Internal Examination and Tissue Sampling, May–June 2002



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