The presence of contaminants in the atmosphere can produce a wide variety of adverse effects including increased mortality and morbidity in the public, deterioration of buildings and monuments, acidification of lakes and rivers, and forest and crop damage. The health effects of atmospheric contaminants cannot be avoided by staying inside since ambient air is transported indoors along with its pollutants while indoor sources can add to the problems. Although we have substantially improved the ambient air quality over the past 30 years, there are still a number of problems that are attributed to air pollution. Recent studies have found strong correlations between changes in particle concentrations and increased mortality. There has been a sharp rise in childhood asthma.
Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program
The Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program (GLFMSP) is the revision of a program begun in the 1970’s with the objective of monitoring fish contaminants in the Great Lakes. In this revamped program, the sampling program has been simplified and additional emphasis has been placed on identifying emerging contaminants that may pose a risk to the Great Lakes. Clarkson has operated the GLFMSP Since 2005. During this period, we have modernized legacy pollutant measurements by developing efficient sample processing and analysis procedures. These improvements have included much faster extraction and significantly less solvent use. Manual clean-up columns were replaced with automated gel permeation chromatography (GPC) allowing faster, more reproducible, sample preparation. For mercury (Hg), manual hot plate digestion and AA was replaced by direct mercury analysis. Other improvements include lowering detection limits, adding additional chemicals to the analyte list, scanning for and identifying emerging contaminants, and including the routine analyses of fish eggs. We have also enhanced the program by developing working relationships with laboratories from other federal agencies, states, and other countries.
Beginning in 2010, we are expanding the measurement of emerging contaminants, chemicals put into large-scale use in recent decades that have a high potential for biomagnifications. We will also be looking at biomagnifications by sampling one lake a year for concentrations of emerging contaminants in water, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fodder fish as well as in top predator fish. At the end of the current 5 year program, we expect to have an improved understanding of the current status of toxic substances in Great Lakes fish.
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