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Predicted aquatic exposure effects from a national urban stormwater study

April 7, 2023

A multi-agency study of 438 organic and 62 inorganic chemicals measured in urban stormwater during 50 total runoff events at 21 sites across the United States demonstrated that stormwater discharges can generate localized, aquatic exposures to extensive contaminant mixtures, including organics suspected to cause adverse aquatic-health effects. The aggregated risks to multiple aquatic trophic levels (fish, invertebrates, plants) of the stormwater mixture exposures, which were documented in the national study, were explored herein by calculating cumulative ratios of organic-contaminant in vitro exposure–activity cutoffs (∑EAR) and health-benchmark-weighted cumulative toxicity quotients (∑TQ). Both risk assessment approaches indicated substantial (moderate to high) risk for acute adverse effects to aquatic organisms across multiple trophic levels (fish, macroinvertebrates, non-vascular/vascular plants) at or near stormwater discharge points across the United States. The results are interpreted as potential orders of magnitude underestimates of actual aquatic risk in stormwater control wetlands or in the immediate vicinity of such discharges to surface-water receptors, because the 438 organic-compound analytical space assessed in this study is orders of magnitude less than the 350 000 parent compounds estimated to be in current commercial use globally and the incalculable chemical-space of potential metabolites and degradates.

Publication Year 2023
Title Predicted aquatic exposure effects from a national urban stormwater study
DOI 10.1039/D2EW00933A
Authors Paul M. Bradley, Kristin M. Romanok, Kelly L. Smalling, Jason R. Masoner, Dana W. Kolpin, Stephanie Gordon
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology
Index ID 70242136
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geographic Science Center; New Jersey Water Science Center; Oklahoma Water Science Center; South Atlantic Water Science Center; Illinois-Iowa-Missouri Water Science Center