Contamination of resident aquatic organisms is a major concern for environmental risk assessors. However, collecting organisms to estimate risk is often prohibitively time and resource-intensive. Passive sampling accurately estimates resident organism contamination, and it saves time and resources. This study used low density polyethylene (LDPE) passive water samplers to predict polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) levels in signal crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus. Resident crayfish were collected at 5 sites within and outside of the Portland Harbor Superfund Megasite (PHSM) in the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. LDPE deployment was spatially and temporally paired with crayfish collection. Crayfish visceral and tail tissue, as well as water-deployed LDPE, were extracted and analyzed for 62 PAHs using GC-MS/MS. Freely-dissolved concentrations (Cfree) of PAHs in water were calculated from concentrations in LDPE. Carcinogenic risks were estimated for all crayfish tissues, using benzo[a]pyrene equivalent concentrations (BaPeq). ∑PAH were 5-20 times higher in viscera than in tails, and ∑BaPeq were 6-70 times higher in viscera than in tails. Eating only tail tissue of crayfish would therefore significantly reduce carcinogenic risk compared to also eating viscera. Additionally, PAH levels in crayfish were compared to levels in crayfish collected 10 years earlier. PAH levels in crayfish were higher upriver of the PHSM and unchanged within the PHSM after the 10-year period. Finally, a linear regression model predicted levels of 34 PAHs in crayfish viscera with an associated R-squared value of 0.52 (and a correlation coefficient of 0.72), using only the Cfree PAHs in water. On average, the model predicted PAH concentrations in crayfish tissue within a factor of 2.4 ± 1.8 of measured concentrations. This affirms that passive water sampling accurately estimates PAH contamination in crayfish. Furthermore, the strong predictive ability of this simple model suggests that it could be easily adapted to predict contamination in other shellfish of concern.
Keywords: Human health risk assessment; Industrial pollution; Passive sampling; Predictive modeling; Shellfish; Superfund site.
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