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Potential health effects of contaminant mixtures from point and nonpoint sources on fish and frogs in the New Jersey Pinelands

September 19, 2022

Aquatic ecosystems convey complex contaminant mixtures from anthropogenic pollution on a global scale. Point (e.g., municipal wastewater) and nonpoint sources (e.g., stormwater runoff) are both drivers of contaminant mixtures in aquatic habitats. The objectives of this study were to identify the contaminant mixtures present in surface waters impacted by both point and nonpoint sources, to determine if aquatic biota (amphibian and fish) health effects (testicular oocytes and parasites) occurred at these sites, and to understand if differences in biological and chemical measures existed between point (on-stream) and nonpoint sources (off-stream). To accomplish this, water chemistry, fishes, and frogs were collected from 21 sites in the New Jersey Pinelands, United States. Off-stream sites consisted of 3 reference and 10 degraded wetlands. On-stream sites consisted of two reference lakes and six degraded steams/lakes (four sites above and two sites below wastewater outfalls). Surface water was collected 4 times at each site and analyzed for 133 organic and inorganic contaminants. One native and five non-native fish species were collected from streams/lakes and native green frogs from wetlands (ponds and stormwater basins). Limited differences in contaminant concentrations were observed in reference and degraded wetlands but for streams/lakes, results indicated that landscape alteration, (upland agricultural and developed land) was the primary driver of contaminant concentrations rather than municipal wastewater. Incidence of estrogenic endocrine disruption (intersex) was species dependent with the highest prevalence observed in largemouth bass and black crappie and the lowest prevalence observed in green frogs and tessellated darters. Parasite prevalence was site and species dependent. Prevalence of eye parasites increased with increasing concentrations of industrial, mycotoxin, and cumulative inorganic contaminants. These findings are critical to support the conservation, protection, and management of a wide range of aquatic species in the Pinelands and elsewhere as habitat loss, alteration, and fragmentation increase with increasing development.

Publication Year 2022
Title Potential health effects of contaminant mixtures from point and nonpoint sources on fish and frogs in the New Jersey Pinelands
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.158205
Authors Sara E. Breitmeyer, Heather L. Walsh, Vicki S. Blazer, John F. Bunnell, Patrick M. Burritt, Jeff Dragon, Michelle Hladik, Paul M. Bradley, Kristin M. Romanok, Kelly L. Smalling
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Index ID 70236810
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center; New Jersey Water Science Center; South Atlantic Water Science Center; Eastern Ecological Science Center