The use of leeches and logit log-linear contingency models to assess and monitor aquatic PCB contamination originating from mid-Canada radar line site 050 Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Abandoned military sites in northern North America are relics of the Cold War and sources of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In the late 1990s, the Canadian federal and provincial governments began the cleanup of the mid-Canada radar line in Ontario, Canada. The first site to be remediated was Site 050 (Fort Albany First Nation) in 2001; however, the community remains concerned that contaminants may have moved prior to, during, and after remediation into the Albany River directly adjacent to Site 050. Thus, the Albany River was monitored (1999, 2001, 2002) during the remediation process to determine if the cleanup itself further contaminated the aquatic compartment, using leeches (Haemopis spp.) as bioindicators. Few organochlorines were found in leeches at levels higher than the detection limit, aside from PCBs. Leech data from the present study indicated that PCB levels were significantly higher near Site 050 than the control site upstream, indicating point source contamination from Site 050. The temporal trend in leech contaminant data indicated an increase in PCB contaminant load from 1999 (pre-remediation) to 2001 (immediately post-remediation), but this difference was not statistically significant due to high variances. Nevertheless, logit log-linear contingency modeling did reveal that immediately after cleanup (2001), contaminants (CBs 99, 118, 128, 156, 170, 183) in leeches were detected significantly more frequent than expected. When taken together, leech body burden and frequency of detection data suggest that the remediation process itself further contaminated the aquatic environment, if only temporarily. Lastly, the removal of the terrestrial source of PCBs during remediation did remove the source of aquatic contaminants in that body burden of contaminants in leeches were significantly lower a year after cleanup.

publication date

  • May 2008