Hamilton Harbour, located in Ontario, Canada at the western end of Lake Ontario, is recognized as one of the most anthropogenically-impacted regions within the Great Lakes and is currently listed as an Area of Concern. One of the Beneficial Use Impairments for the harbour has been restrictions on fish consumption due to elevated contaminant levels. In this study, we examined past and recent fish contaminant data collected by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change in partnership with other agencies to evaluate temporal trends in fish contaminant concentrations. Measurements for both resident and migratory sport fish as well as juvenile/forage fish were considered, with analysis focused on polychlorinated biphenyls, the group of chemicals identified as the major contaminant of concern. Current contaminant levels were evaluated against fish consumption advisory benchmarks used by Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and compared with corresponding observations for other locations across the Great Lakes, including other Areas of Concern. The results show statistically significant improvements in fish contaminant levels within Hamilton Harbour, with recent fish mercury concentrations below the first advisory benchmarks for all species included in this study. Polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations declined by 59–82% from historical levels, although this decline was not statistically significant in Brown Trout, Common Carp, Freshwater Drum and White Sucker. Further, all species exhibit recent polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations above the first consumption advisory benchmark of 105 ng g−1. Compared to other Great Lakes locations, including other areas of concern, Hamilton Harbour polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations remain amongst the highest. The results suggest that recovery of Hamilton Harbour is still on-going.
Improvements in fish polychlorinated biphenyl and other contaminant levels in response to remedial actions in Hamilton Harbour, Ontario, Canada
Margaret R. Neff, Samantha Stefanoff, Satyendra P. Bhavsar; Improvements in fish polychlorinated biphenyl and other contaminant levels in response to remedial actions in Hamilton Harbour, Ontario, Canada. Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management 2 April 2016; 19 (2): 161–170. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/14634988.2016.1139996
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