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Toxic Pollutants Measured in Surface Water and Fish Collected from the Willamette River Basin by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (2008 – 2010)

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  • In 2008 the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) initiated a program to monitor Oregon’s surface waters and aquatic biota for the presence of pollutants that pose risks to human and/or environmental health. ODEQ’s Toxics Monitoring Program was first implemented in the Willamette River Basin (WRB) between 2008 and 2010. Surface water samples were at collected 20 locations 6 times during that period and fish were collected at 12 sites in 2008. A variety of organic compounds and metals were detected in WRB surface water samples as well as in fish fillet samples. Concentrations of toxic organic compounds in water were generally low. Herbicides were the most frequently detected pollutant class; insecticides were rarely detected. Multiple, “emerging contaminants” were detected in surface water. Generally, water collected at sites located lower in basin contained a higher number of detected compounds. Composited fillet samples (northern pike minnow and smallmouth bass) contained concentrations of dioxins and furans (expressed as total toxic equivalents) that exceeded EPA screening levels for recreational and subsistence anglers. Other contaminants detected in fish fillet samples included DDT (legacy pesticide), polychlorinated biphenyls (widely used in electrical generation/transmission, banned in 1970’s), polybrominated biphenylethers (flame retardants) and mercury. Findings will be presented relative to established criteria or screening values (where available).
  • Presented at The Oregon Water Conference, May 24-25, 2011, Corvallis, OR.
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