Barber, L.B., Keefe, S.H., Antweiler, R.C., Taylor, H.E., and Wass, R.D., 2006, Accumulation of contaminants in fish from wastewater treatment wetlands: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 40, p. 603-611.

Increasing demands on water resources in arid environments make reclamation and reuse of municipal wastewater an important component of the water budget. Treatment wetlands can be an integral part of the water-reuse cycle providing both water-quality enhancement and habitat functions. When used for habitat, the bioaccumulation potential of contaminants in the wastewater is a critical consideration. Water and fish samples collected from the Tres Rios Demonstration Constructed Wetlands near Phoenix, Arizona, which uses secondary-treated wastewater to maintain an aquatic ecosystem in a desert environment, were analyzed for hydrophobic organic compounds (HOC) and trace elements. Semipermeable membrane devices (SPMD) were deployed to investigate uptake of HOC. The wetlands effectively removed HOC, and concentrations of herbicides, pesticides, and organic wastewater contaminants decreased 40-99% between inlet and outlet. Analysis of Tilapia mossambica and Gambusia affinis indicated accumulation of HOC, including p,p'-DDE and trans-nonachlor. The SPMD accumulated the HOC detected in the fish tissue as well as additional compounds. Trace-element concentrations in whole-fish tissue were highly variable, but were similar between the two species. Concentrations of HOC and trace elements varied in different fish tissue compartments, and concentrations in Tilapia liver tissue were greater than those in the whole organism or filet tissue. Bioconcentration factors for the trace elements ranged from 5 to 58 000 and for the HOC ranged from 530 to 150 000.


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