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Chlordane, DDT, PCB's, and Other Selected Organic Compounds in the Asiatic Clams and Yellow Bullhead in the Potomac River Basin, 1992

By Humbert Zappia

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Abstract

Chlordane, DDT (dichlor-diphenyl-trichloroethane), and PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls) were the most widespread organic contaminants detected during a 1992 survey of aquatic biological tissues in the Potomac River Basin. On the basis of existing U.S. Food and Drug Administration criteria, no new threats to human health were discovered, although chlordane concentrations may pose a threat to fish-eating wildlife. Chlordane exceeded the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering recommended maximum concentration for the protection of fish-eating wildlife at two sites.

The survey, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water-Quality Assessment Program, sampled Asiatic clams (Corbicula fluminea) and yellow bullhead (Ameiurus natalis) at 16 sites to determine the occurrence and distribution of 29 hydrophobic organic compounds. Thirteen of these organic compounds were detected in the survey. Sites with the greatest number of compounds detected include the Potomac River near Alexandria, Va., with 6 compounds detected in Asiatic clam tissue, and Accotink Creek near Annandale, Va., with 11 compounds in yellow bullhead tissue.

Chlordane was detected at six sites, with maximum concentrations of 31.1 µg/kg (micrograms per kilograms) in Asiatic clam tissue and 127 µg/kg in yellow bullhead whole-fish tissue. DDT was detected at five sites, with maximum concentrations of 12.9 µg/kg in Asiatic clam tissue and 7.6 µg/kg in yellow bullhead whole-fish tissue. PCB’s were detected at nine sites, with maximum concentrations of 162 µg/kg in Asiatic clam tissue and 146 µg/ kg in yellow bullhead whole-fish tissue.


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