Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2010AZ320B

Use of Fish as Integrative Samplers of Uranium and Lead Isotopes in the Colorado River

Institute: Arizona
Year Established: 2010 Start Date: 2010-07-01 End Date: 2011-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $9,900 Total Non-Federal Funds: $19,816

Principal Investigators: Charles Sanchez, John Chesley, Peter Reinthal

Abstract: The Colorado River is contaminated with low levels of uranium (U)and other metals. Uranium is a health concern as a potential carcinogen and as a causal agent of kidney dysfunction. Renewed emphasis on alternative energy sources has revived interest in uranium (U) mining on the Colorado Plateau. The Colorado River which transects and drains the plateau is used both as a source of drinking water and a source of irrigation water for food crops. The objective of these proposed studies are to evaluate fish tissue as an integrative sampler of U, Pb, and other metal contaminants in the Lower Colorado River region. We propose to utilize high-precision analyses of radiogenic isotopes (Pb, U, and Sr) to identify probable sources of these elements and by proxy, other potential contaminants. These data, as well as other we have collected on water, sediments, soil, and plants are critical in identification of the sources and pathways of these potential toxins in the food web. This information is a prerequisite for any possible effort to reduce human exposure to these and other toxic elements. These measurements will also provide a baseline should future exploration and mining activity enhance contamination or accidental release occurs.