As a part of their Freshwater Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program (FFCMP), Washington’s Department of Ecology has been assessing the contaminant levels of freshwater fish from across the state since 2001. The goal of this long-term monitoring project is to track the change in levels of chemicals like mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and chlorinated pesticides in fish tissues.
A report from their 2012 study has just been released, and covers levels in fish collected from the Spokane and Pend Oreille Rivers, as well as North Cascades National Park. In North Cascades National Park, levels of PCBs in cutthroat trout exceeded Washington’s contaminant standards, referred to as Fish Tissue Equivalent Concentrations. This is of particular interest to the aquatic ecology lab, as one of our upcoming projects will be looking at PCB levels in food webs of the park’s high elevation lakes. What are those chemicals doing way up in the mountains? Check out the old blog post “Toxins in the Mountains” from December 2013 to learn more.