Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014IL287B

Statewide surveillance of emerging flame retardant contamination in Illinois waters via fish monitoring

Institute: Illinois
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $4,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $8,091

Principal Investigators: Da Chen

Abstract: Human activities generate large amounts of a wide range of pollutants. These are subsequently released into water systems via point or non-point discharges. Some may impair water quality, aquatic ecosystem and human health. Statewide water qualities and anthropogenic pollution in Illinois have been monitored by projects such as the Illinois EPA fish contaminant monitoring program. However, current efforts have largely focused on legacy pollutants (e.g. heavy metals, pesticides and PCBs). There is still a lack of information on the spatial and temporal distribution of emerging contaminants in Illinois aquatic environment. Among a variety of emerging contaminants, the brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have attracted mounting environmental concerns. US EPA has identified a number of BFRs as High Production Volume (HPV) substances.1 Some BFR substances (e.g. polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs) have demonstrated environmental persistence, bioaccumulative and toxic potentials.1-3 The Stockholm Convention has recently identified the Penta-PBDE and Octa-PBDE as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (www.pop.int). To date, a number of states (e.g. California, Virginia and Washington) have performed large-scale investigation of BFR exposure in important aquatic systems.4-6 However, a literature review revealed extremely limited information on BFR contamination in Illinois waters. This proposed project aims to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution of BFRs in Illinois streams and lakes via fish monitoring. The research findings will be of interest to a variety of audiences including scientific communities, policy makers and the public. Without knowing the types, abundances and distribution of BFRs, scientists are unable to evaluate potential adverse effects of these emerging contaminants on sentinel species or ecosystems. The project findings are needed by regulatory authorities, such as the Illinois EPA and the Department of Public Health (DPH), for characterization of contamination sources and environmental and human health risks. The information also enables the public to recognize the environmental presence of this group of emerging contaminants and the perceived risks of human exposure.