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Three years of fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) embryo-larval chronic toxicity tests were conducted on stream sediments and waters collected from eight localities in the Yellow Creek drainage, in Kentucky. Test sites were chosen to assess the impact from the following point and nonpoint sources: (1) a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), (2) urban runoff, (3) coal mining and washing activities, (4) septic tank seepage, and (5) dumping of trash into the creek. All tests were conducted in replicate, and sediments and water were analyzed for heavy metals (high concentrations of metals have historically been measured in the area). The toxicity of stream sediments and water decreased downstream from the WWTP with dilution and distance from the outfall. Results of the solid-phase sediment tests were very similar over the three years. However, considerable differences were noted in the yearly water testing. Sediment samples collected immediately below the WWTP demonstrated 82% toxicity in 1984, 81% toxicity in 1985, and 78% toxicity in 1987. Water samples from that location produced 21% lethality in 1984, 100% lethality in 1985, and 21% lethality in 1986. Control sediments and waters from the basin demonstrated very high survival over the three years (range 95 to 98%). From these data, solid-phase sediment toxicity tests are useful indicators of long-term impacts (over three years) while water-column toxicity tests are more representative of short-term effects. Under the constraints of time and resources that are placed on federal and state agencies and in areas that are monitored infrequently, sediment toxicity testing would be preferable to water-column testing to assess overall instream toxic conditions.
chronic toxicity, stream sediments, solid-phase sediment tests, water column tests, point and nonpoint pollution, embryo-larval toxicity tests, aquatic toxicology
Aquatic toxicologist, Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, Frankfort, KY