Areas of Concern: New York Statewide Fish Collection - Contaminants in fish from the Buffalo River AOC

Science Center Objects

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and Department of Health (NYSDOH), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) sampled fish from the Buffalo River AOC during summer 2017 to help determine if current fish-consumption advisories are appropriate and if residue data support or do not support removal of the “Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption” beneficial use impairment (BUI) status.

NYSDEC Staffer holding a catfish caught on the Buffalo River Area of concern

A NYSDEC staff member holding a catfish that was caught during field work on the Buffalo River for chemical contaminants. 

(Public domain.)

The USGS and NYSDEC are obtaining data on chemical contaminants in fish from multiple Areas of Concern (AOCs) in New York State and plan to use this information to evaluate fish consumption advisories, which are a critical component of most removal criteria for “Restriction on Fish and Wildlife Consumption” BUIs. The first project in the Buffalo River AOC will help determine if current fish consumption advisories are appropriate, if they can be modified, and if they support BUI removal as recommended in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 2014 Buffalo River AOC Remedial Action Plan (https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-aocs/buffalo-river-area-concern-remedial-action-plan-activities-october-2014). Multiple assessments will be required to demonstrate decreasing contaminant residues (temporal trends)  in order for the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to reevaluate fish-consumption advisories in this AOC.

The USGS and NYSDEC, with assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) collected tissues from about 170 fish (or fish composites) at four zones in the Buffalo River AOC during summer 2017. Samples were analyzed for almost 300 constituents including PCBs, PAHS, metals, and pesticides.

Contributions

  • Data collected by this study provide the initial set of fish-tissue residues (2-yr post action/remediation) required to establish a trend in contaminant concentrations in fish from the Buffalo AOC (when combined with data collected at 5-yr post remediation) which will form the foundation needed to reassess fish-consumption advisories that are a key element of the BUI removal criteria.

Partners

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
  • Department of Health (NYSDOH)