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Concentrations of chlorinated organic compounds in biota and bed sediment in streams of the lower San Joaquin River drainage, California

August 1, 1998

Samples of resident biota and bed sediments were collected in 1992 from 18 sites on or near the floor of the San Joaquin Valley, California, for analysis of 33 organochlorine compounds. The sites were divided into five groups on the basis of physiographic region and land use. Ten compounds were detected in tissue, and 16 compounds were detected in bed sediment. The most frequently detected compound in both media was p,p'-DDE. Concentrations of total DDT (sum of o,p'- and p,p'-forms of DDD, DDE, and DDT) were statistically different among groups of sites for tissue and sediment (Kruskal-Wallis, P < 0.05). Concentrations in both media were highest in streams draining the west side of the valley. Concentrations of total DDT in tissue were significantly correlated with specific conductance, pH, and total alkalinity (P < 0.05), which are indicators of the proportion of irrigation-return flows in stream discharge. Concentrations in sediment on a dry-weight basis were not correlated with these water-quality parameters, but total-organic- carbon (TOC) normalized concentrations were significantly correlated with specific conductance and pH (P < 0.05). Regressions of the concentration of total DDT in tissue as a function of total DDT in bed sediment were significant and explained as much as 76 percent of the variance in the data. The concentration of total DDT in sediment may be related to mechanisms of soil transport to surface water with bioavailability of compounds related to the concentration of TOC in sediment.