"Many people have documented these pollutants in fish in the Great Lakes, but most studies that have been done are more on the western part of Lake Erie and in the other lakes," said Diana Aga, a UB professor of chemistry and an author of the Chemosphere paper. "What we're doing here is to document specifically what's happening in eastern Lake Erie, which is interesting because it can be easily impacted by industries and human activities in the Buffalo area."
"We wanted to document what we have now and compare it to other areas and to the future. If there's any cleaning up in the area, then whatever remediation is done, we'll be able to see if it has affected the levels of these chemicals in fish over time," Aga said.
Alicia Prez-Fuentetaja, a biologist at Buffalo State College's Great Lakes Center, led the research on carp, overseeing an interdisciplinary group of biologists and chemists from UB and the State University of New York at Cortland. Prez-Fuentetaja is also heading the project on plankton and sportfish, leading a team whose members include Aga, UB graduate student Susan Mackintosh and Mehran Alaee of Environment Canada in Ontario. Funding for both studies comes from the Great Lakes Protection Fund.
In their Chemosphere paper, Prez-Fuentetaja, Aga and co-authors wrote that PCBs and PBDEs "are of concern because they have the propensity to disrupt the endocrine system, cause neurobehavioral deficits and possibly cause cancer."
The discovery of high levels of PCBs in carp underscores the staying power the chemicals have in the environment. A ban on the production of PCBs has been in place in the U.S. since 1979, but scientists working in the Great Lakes and elsewhere in the country have continued to find accumulations of the substance in fish.
And while Prez
|Contact: Charlotte Hsu|
University at Buffalo