Toxic Contaminants in Marine and Anadromous Fishes From Puget Sound, Washington: Results of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program Fish Component, 1989-1999

Category: Fish/Shellfish Research

Published: August 2001

Pages: 311

Author(s): James West, Sandra O'Neill, Greg Lippert and Stephen Quinnell


This report is the first comprehensive data summary of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program’s (PSAMP) Fish Component. Its primary purpose is to provide a brief background of the PSAMP Fish Component, an overview of its sampling methods, a comprehensive summary of contaminant exposure data collected by the PSAMP, and a summary of key findings.

In the period covering 1989 through 1999 we sampled tissues or other matrices from ten marine or anadromous fish species from over 100 stations. Our sampling covered the full geographic range of the Puget Sound and southern Georgia Basin, an area of marine and estuarine waters exceeding 2300 km2, and with a shoreline length exceeding 2100 km. Data for toxic contaminants from 2,123 composite or individual samples are summarized here, including 1,446 muscle samples, 290 liver samples, 88 whole-body samples, and 299 bile samples. Fifty-six of the 126 individual compounds or elements monitored by the PSAMP Fish Component were measured above the method detection limit in at least one sample during this period. This group of detected compounds includes all four of the metals for which we analyzed (copper, arsenic, mercury and lead), four of seven PCB Aroclors, 14 of 15 PCB congeners, 13 of 23 pesticides, biliary metabolites (as fluorescing aromatic compounds, or FACs) of benzo(a)pyrene, phenanthrene, and naphthalene, three of four organotins, and 15 Other Organic Compounds (including aromatic hydrocarbons, phthalates, phenols, halogens, ethers, etc.). Of these groups, the metals, PCBs, and FACs were the only compounds detected consistently.

Data are summarized by frequency of detection in each matrix for all contaminants, followed by species-specific summary statistics for the most commonly detected compounds, and finally, an appendix of species-location-specific summary statistics. Pertinent biological data for these samples (e.g., fish age, size, and tissue lipid concentrations, are presented. Key findings from previously published reports are also summarized for PCBs, pesticides, mercury, lead, arsenic, copper, and FACs.

Suggested citation

O'Neill, S.M. and J.E. West. 2007. Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxics in the Food Web. Pages 140- 148; 151-156 in Puget Sound Action Team, editors. 2007 Puget Sound Update: Ninth Report of the Puget Sound Assessment and Monitoring Program. Olympia, Washington.