Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020DC138B

Toxicity of organic contaminants in urban and suburban areas of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers

Institute: District of Columbia
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $10,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $20,105

Principal Investigators: Stephen E. MacAvoy

Abstract: Among the contaminants found in the Anacostia River are a class of organic contaminants called PAHs (polycyclic organic hydrocarbons). The majority of these compounds are largely derived from combustion of organic materials including fossil fuels from car exhaust and coal burning and they typically attract attention because some are carcinogenic (Velinsky et al. 2011). A sister compound to PAHs known as BPA (bisphenol A) may also be found in Anacostia waters and it is an endocrine disrupter linked to intersex fish and other developmental disorders. BPA is found in many plastics and is approved for use in many food packing materials from water bottles to aluminum can liners. Although we know that 200,000 tons of trash (mostly plastics) flows down the Anacostia per year (Robinson, 2019), there have not been any published studies on the occurrence of BPA in its waters, much less any examination of impacts on aquatic organisms. Given that the Washington DC government has adopted a policy to make the Anacostia