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Toxic Contaminant Characterization of Estuarine Sediment and Organisms on the Texas Coast

Charles R. Smith 1, James D. Simons 2, Pamela Hamlett 3, David M. Klein 3, and Gary Steinmetz 3

1 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Austin, Texas
2 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Corpus Christi, Texas
3 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), San Marcos, Texas

Numerous recent studies have assessed coastal environments for toxic contaminant loads by assaying sediment and a variety of species for various analytes. The Resource Protection Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the National Coastal Assessment Program, has monitored contaminants in sediment and selected shellfish and finfish species along the entire Texas coast since 2000. Compounds measured in sediment and in whole-carcass homogenates of target organisms included polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and trace elements listed on the EPA Priority Pollutant List. The results provide insight into the influence of sediment analyte concentrations and organism species on tissue uptake of the compounds. A complementary question is how well the tissue analyte concentrations of motile animals such as shrimp and finfish reflect the environmental contaminant levels where they are sampled. Ultimately, this baseline data will permit meaningful comparison with other studies of areas with different sediment contaminant levels and organisms.

Keywords: tissue, sediment, chemistry, chemical analysis, contaminant, trace element, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, PAH, polychlorinated biphenyl, PCB, metal, pesticide, DDT, inorganic analyte, organic analyte, organophosphate, fish, finfish, shrimp, crustacean

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