US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 51, 661–672 (2006)


U.S. Government Work.


Organochlorine chemical residues and elemental contaminants were measured in northern pike (Esox lucius), longnose sucker (Catostomus catostomus), and burbot (Lota lota) from 10 sites in the Yukon River Basin (YRB) during 2002. Contaminant concentrations were compared to historical YRB data and to toxicity thresholds for fish and piscivorous wildlife from the scientific literature. A risk analysis was conducted to screen for potential hazards to piscivorous wildlife for contaminants that exceeded literature-based toxicity thresholds. Concentrations of total DDT (sum of p,p¢-homologs; 1.09–13.6 ng/g), total chlordane (0.67–7.5 ng/g), dieldrin (<0.16–0.6 ng/g), toxaphene (<11–34 ng/g), total PCBs (<20– 87 ng/g), TCDD-EQ (<1.7 pg/g), arsenic (0.03–1.95 lg/g), cadmium (<0.02–0.12 lg/g), copper (0.41–1.49 lg/g), and lead (<0.21–0.27 lg/g) did not exceed toxicity thresholds for growth and reproduction in YRB fish. Concentrations of mercury (0.08–0.65 lg/g), selenium (0.23–0.85 lg/g), and zinc (11–56 lg/g) exceeded toxicity thresholds in one or more samples and were included in the risk analysis for piscivorous wildlife. No effect hazard concentrations (NEHCs) and low effect hazard concentrations (LEHCs), derived from literaturebased toxicity reference values and avian and mammalian life history parameters, were calculated for mercury, selenium, and zinc. Mercury concentrations in YRB fish exceeded the NEHCs for all bird and small mammal models, which indicated that mercury concentrations in fish may represent a risk to piscivorous wildlife throughout the YRB. Low risk to piscivorous wildlife was associated with selenium and zinc concentrations in YRB fish. Selenium and zinc concentrations exceeded the NEHCs and LEHCs for only the small bird model. These results indicate that mercury should continue to be monitored and assessed in Alaskan fish and wildlife.