ABSTRACT: A large number of hazardous waste sites in the United States have undergone the initial stages of remediation or containment. At many of the remaining sites, the potential for exposure to ecological receptors is a primary concern. This manuscript reports on studies to investigate the impact on ecological receptors exposed to complex mixtures at a former creosote facility. Currently there are isolated areas on-site that were not addressed in the initial removal action that appear to be releasing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to the surrounding environment. The U.S. EPA collected environmental samples and performed ex situ sediment bioassays to measure chronic toxicity; whereas, this study describes an in situ study to measure biomarkers of effect in two ecological receptors. Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) and cricket frogs (Acris crepitans) were collected from a small intermittent creek adjacent to the site, and reference stations. A weight-of-evidence ecological risk assessment was completed for the amphibian and fish communities. The ecological risk assessment was developed using analysis of media chemistry, body burden of specific PAHs, bioassay results, community surveys, and cellular genome size variation as a biomarker of genotoxicity. Flow cytometric estimates of chromosomal damage were significantly elevated for both mosquitofish and cricket frogs inhabiting the contaminated site, relative to at least one reference site. Surface water screening values for fish and amphibians exceeded screening values for PAHs by more than one order of magnitude in the on-site creek, and sediment PAH concentrations were extremely high (up to 1,549 microg/dry g). Tissue concentrations of PAHs were below screening values. Media chemistry, bioassay and genotoxicity data all support the same conclusion that on-site PAHs continue to impact aquatic receptors. The genotoxicity findings are consistent with and contribute to results of the weight-of-evidence ecological risk assessment. The results support continuing efforts to incorporate biomarkers as valuable lines of evidence within ecological risk assessment.
Ecotoxicology 07/2009; 18(7):886-98. · 2.36 Impact Factor