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Contaminants in fishes from Great Lakes-influenced sections and above dams of three Michigan rivers. II: Implications for health of mink

January 1, 1994

Populations of mink (Mustela vison) have declined in many areas of the world. Such declines have been linked to exposures to synthetic, halogenated hydrocarbons. In the Great Lakes region, mink are fewer in areas along the shore of the Great Lakes and their tributaries where mink have access to fish from the Great Lakes. Recently, there has been discussion of the relative merits of passage of fishes around hydroelectric dams on rivers in Michigan. A hazard assessment was conducted to determine the potential for adverse effects on mink, which could consume such fishes from above or below dams on the rivers. Concentrations of organochlorine insecticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 2,3,7,8-tetrachloridibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TCDD-EQ), and total mercury were measured in composite samples of fishes from above or below hydroelectric dams on the Manistee and Muskegon Rivers, which flow into Lake Michigan, and the Au Sable River, which flows into Lake Huron. Concentrations of organochlorine insecticides, PCBs, and TCDD-EQ were all greater in fishes from below the dams than those from above. Concentrations of neither organochlorine insecticides nor mercury in fishes are currently a risk to mink above or below the dams. All of the species of fishes collected from downstream of the dams contained concentrations of PCBs and TCDD-EQ, which represent a hazard to mink. The hazard index for PCBs was less than one for the average of all species from the upstream reaches of the Manistee and Au Sable Rivers, but not the Muskegon. The hazard index (concentration in fish/NOAEC) was greater than 1 for all of the species collected from below the dams, in all three rivers. The greatest hazard index was observed for carp (Cyprinus carpio) downstream on the Muskegon River. Because the concentrations of PCBs used in the hazard assessment were corrected for relative toxic potencies, the hazard ratios based on PCBs should be similar to those based on TCDD-EQ. This was found to be true. Thus, either total PCBs or TCDD-EQ could be used as the critical toxicant in the hazard assessment. However, if uncorrected concentrations of PCBs, expressed as Aroclors®, were used in the hazard assessment, the toxicity of the weathered mixture would have been underestimated by approximately five-fold, and, in that instance, TCDD-EQ would be the critical contaminant for the hazard assessment. The average maximum allowable percentage of fish from above the dams, which would result in no observable adverse effects of TCDD-EQ, was 70%. Based on the average TCDD-EQ concentrations in the fishes, an average of 8.6% of the diet could be made up of fishes from below dams on the rivers. The most restrictive daily allowable intakes were for carp on the Muskegon and steelhead trout (Onchorhyncus mykiss) on the Manistee Rivers. Only 2.7% of the diet could be made up of these two species from influenced portion of the Au Sable River, they would be exposed to 390 μg PCBs and 8.55 ng of TCDD-EQ per day, respectively (Giesy et al. 1994b). Thus, it would take 15.1 or 77 days for mink to receive their total annual dose of PCBs or TCDD-EQ, respectively. At least for chinook salmon, the critical contaminant for the purposes of hazard assessment would be total concentrations of PCBs. Consuming chinook salmon for as little as 2 weeks would deliver the annual allowable dose of PCBs to mink.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1994
Title Contaminants in fishes from Great Lakes-influenced sections and above dams of three Michigan rivers. II: Implications for health of mink
DOI 10.1007/BF00214265
Authors J.P. Giesy, D.A. Verbrugge, R. A. Othout, W.W. Bowerman, M.A. Mora, P.D. Jones, J.L. Newsted, C. Vandervoort, S. N. Heaton, R.J. Aulerich, S.J. Bursian, J. P. Ludwig, G. A. Dawson, T.J. Kubiak, D. A. Best, D. E. Tillitt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Series Number
Index ID 70178214
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center