SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1999

Ecotoxicological Assessment of Bluegill Sunfish Inhabiting a Selenium-Enriched Fly Ash Stream


Little Scary Creek (LSC), a 2nd-order tributary of the Kanawha River in West Virginia, receives treated fly ash produced during coal combustion. Selenium and other trace metals were determined in water column and sediment samples, caddisflies, and bluegill sunfish liver and gonads during 1995–96 to estimate pathways of selenium exposure and assess the likelihood of toxic effects. Selenium levels in LSC water and sediment samples, and in caddisflies were elevated compared to reference sites. Mean dry weight selenium concentrations in bluegill liver (53 μg/g), ovary (23 μg/g), and testes (25 μg/g) tissue equaled or exceeded published toxic thresholds. Other trace metals were significantly higher in LSC bluegill. Leukopenia, elevated serum salts, and lowered liver weight were found in LSC bluegill. Fewer older bluegill were found in LSC. Sunfish in LSC are experiencing various kinds of sublethal stress, presumably due to metals exposure. However, major toxic effects that would be predicted to occur based on tissue selenium levels (complete reproductive failure or mortality) have not been observed in this population.

Author Information

Reash, RJ
American Electric Power, Columbus, OH
Lohner, TW
American Electric Power, Columbus, OH
Wood, KV
American Electric Power, Columbus, OH
Willet, VE
The Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital, Columbus, OH
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Developed by Committee: E47
Pages: 423–446
DOI: 10.1520/STP15820S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5408-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2618-3