Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015NC192B

Legacy impacts of coal combustion residues on freshwater ecosystems in North Carolina

Institute: North Carolina
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $9,305 Total Non-Federal Funds: $83,803

Principal Investigators: Richard Di Giulio, Emily Bernhardt, Jessica Brandt, Heileen Hsu-Kim, Avner Vengosh

Abstract: Coal combustion residues (CCRS) released by permitted effluent streams partition to sediments and sediment pore waters where they accumulate to enriched levels in organisms at the base of the food chain. The objectives of this work are (1) to measure CCR uptake, trophic transfer, and toxicity in freshwater biota; (2) to identify CCR-specific signatures in receiving aquatic ecosystems; and (3) to measure Se in different tissues of resident fishes to determine differences in impacted vs. non-impacted sites and trophic status. The methods involved include contaminant analysis by ICP-MS, developmental toxicity assays, fish feeding and breeding assays, and adult fish collection. By completing this work we hope to significantly expand upon current understanding of toxicological effects resulting from adult and early life exposures to Se, develop a biosensor tool for determining CCR-contaminant signatures in impaired environments, and contribute to databases regarding Se tissue concentrations and related variability resulting from contamination and trophic status of aquatic ecosystems. This work will serve to better inform ongoing monitoring and regulatory efforts by industrial leaders and governmental authorities throughout the state of North Carolina.