Contaminants in Mussel Tissues from U.S. Coastal Waters

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by Donna D. Turgeon, Atmospheric Administration, Rockville, United States,
Gunnar G. Lauenstein, Atmospheric Administration, Rockville, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '91:

Abstract: Findings are presented from analyses of mollusks collected from sites along the East and West Coasts of the United States, from 1986 through 1989, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) National Status and Trends Program (NS&T). Contaminant levels in surface sediments and in the tissues of three species of mussels from 96 sites have been used as indicators of the status of coastal environmental quality. Generally, the greastest accumulations of organic contaminants are found in mussel tissues from urban areas. For instance, the highest levels of PAHs were found in samples from the Hudson-Raritan Estuary, NY, and Elliott Bay, WA. The highest levels of PCBs were found at Angelica Rock in Buzzards Bay, MA, followed by moderately high concentrations in the Hudson-Raritan Estuary, NY and NJ, and a second Buzzard's Bay site (Round Hill). Highest levels of DDT were found in mollusks from sites off Palos Verdes and San Pedro Harbor, CA. Uptake of metal contaminants by mollusks is variable among and within genera. Urban sites with high metal and organic contaminant concentrations in mussel tissues are shown to be associated by complete linkage cluster analyses. Comparisons between NS&T data (1986-88) and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Mussel Watch data (1975-78) indicate significant decadal differences: lead and cadmium in mussel tissues are lower while copper concentrations are higher.

Subject Headings: Pollutants | Federal government | Sea water | Water pollution | Bays | Site investigation | Environmental issues | Urban areas | North America | United States | New York | New Jersey | Washington | California | Massachusetts

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