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Mussels (Mytilus cf. trossulus) were transplanted to a heavily oiled and extensively treated site on Smith Island, Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1992. A new monitoring and assessment tool, the semipermeable membrane device, was also deployed to compare hydrocarbon uptake with mussels and to evaluate the route of exposure to mussels. Both mussels and semipermeable membrane devices accumulated polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons during 14- and 52-day deployments, particularly at the oiled site. Accumulation levels were similar between mussels and the semipermeable membrane devices, but the distribution of individual hydrocarbons differed. The results permit some inference about route of exposure to mussels. Sheens leaching from subsurface deposits of residual oil, and particulate material with adsorbed hydrocarbons were apparently more important exposure pathways than dissolved hydrocarbons in water. Semipermeable membrane devices show promise as monitoring tools and to provide insights into exposure pathways for biota.
bioaccumulation, Exxon Valdez, oil spill, mussels, Mytilus, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, semipermeable membrane devices
Marine biologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, WA
Research chemist, Institute for Environmental Studies, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA