Idaho Environmental Forum #170
The Aquatic Food Web's Warning:
Emerging Contaminants of Concern
Along the Lower Boise River
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The lunch buffet begins
at 11:30 AM.
The program runs from
noon to about 1:15 PM.
This program will meet
at the Crystal Ballroom in the Hoff Building,
802 W. Bannock
Street in downtown Boise.
Dr. Robert A. Grove, Ph.D. -
U.S. Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Corvalis, Oregon
"Emerging Contaminants of Concern" is the phrase used to summarize a long list of chemicals used in products and activities surrounding us and are released into the environment with poorly known consequences. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating these compounds and acting as information justifies action under the Toxic Substances Control Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, or Clean Water Act. For example, polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) are flame retardant additives found in a wide array of plastic, polyurethane foam, and textile products used in building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes etc. that are structurally similar to PCBs, dioxins and furans. PBDEs are persistent in the environment, with concentrations 10 to 20 times higher in North Amaricans than in Europeans.
A wide number o health effects associated with PCBs, dioxins and ferans are also suspected with PBDEs. PBDEs have been identified by the EPA as a possible cause of liver toxicity, thyroid toxicity, and neurodevelopmental toxicity. The only U.S. manufacturer of the forms of PBDEs used in furniture (pentaBDE) and some plastics (octaBDE) voluntarily phased out production of these chemicals and EPA now requires notification prior to manufacture or import.
What are scientists learning about the Boise River and the presence of some of these contaminants in the aquatic food web? How does the Boise River compare to other rivers in the northwest?
Dr. Grove, a Wildlife Biologist specializing in contaminants research, will present the results of a 2008 pilot study, funded by the U.S. Geological Survey, to determine contaminant prevalence of persistent organochlorine pesticides, PCB's, PBDE's and select herbicides and fungicides in the lower Boise River. The Osprey was used in the study because of its position at the top of the aquatic food web and its sensitivity to many of the bioaccumulative contaminants of concern.