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Science of the Total Environment

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Polychlorinated biphenyls -- Environmental aspects, Estuarine health, Oysters -- Effect of water pollution on, Pesticides, Alkylphenol ethoxylates -- Toxicology, Pharmaceuticals


Chemical contaminants can be introduced into estuarine and marine ecosystems from a variety of sources including wastewater, agriculture and forestry practices, point and non-point discharges, runoff from industrial, municipal, and urban lands, accidental spills, and atmospheric deposition. The diversity of potential sources contributes to the likelihood of contaminated marine waters and sediments and increases the probability of uptake by marine organisms. Despite widespread recognition of direct and indirect pathways for contaminant deposition and organismal exposure in coastal systems, spatial and temporal variability in contaminant composition, deposition, and uptake patterns are still poorly known. We investigated these patterns for a suite of persistent legacy contaminants including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and chemicals of emerging concern including pharmaceuticals within two Oregon coastal estuaries (Coos and Netarts Bays). In the more urbanized Coos Bay, native Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) tissue had approximately twice the number of PCB congeners at over seven times the total concentration, yet fewer PBDEs at one-tenth the concentration as compared to the more rural Netarts Bay. Different pharmaceutical suites were detected during each sampling season. Variability in contaminant types and concentrations across seasons and between species and media (organisms versus sediment) indicates the limitation of using indicator species and/or sampling annually to determine contaminant loads at a site or for specific species. The results indicate the prevalence of legacy contaminants and CECs in relatively undeveloped coastal environments highlighting the need to improve policy and management actions to reduce contaminant releases into estuarine and marine waters and to deal with legacy compounds that remain long after prohibition of use. Our results point to the need for better understanding of the ecological and human health risks of exposure to the diverse cocktail of pollutants and harmful compounds that will continue to leach from estuarine sediments over time.


To the best of our knowledge, this work was authored as part of the Contributor's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.



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