John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

An inexpensive, temporally‐integrated system for monitoring occurrence and biological effects of aquatic contaminants in the field

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Assessment of potential risks of complex contaminant mixtures in the environment requires integrated chemical and biological approaches. Our laboratory is developing these types of methods for assessing possible risks of aquatic contaminants in near‐shore Great Lakes sites. A component of this involves an exposure system for caged fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) adults suitable for the wide range of habitat/deployment situations encountered in and around the Great Lakes. To complement the fish exposure system, we also developed an automated device for collection of composite water samples that could be simultaneously deployed with the cages, and reflect a temporally‐integrated exposure of the animals. This paper describes methodological details concerning the design, construction, and deployment of a flexible yet comparatively inexpensive (<600 USD) caged‐fish/auto‐sampler system. Utility and performance of the system is demonstrated with data collected from deployments at several Great Lakes sites. For example, over three field seasons, only two of 130 deployed cages were lost, and approximately 99% of successfully deployed adult fish were recovered after > 4 d. A number of molecular, biochemical, and apical endpoints were successfully measured in recovered animals, changes in which reflected known characteristics of the study sites (e.g., up‐regulation of hepatic genes involved in xenobiotic metabolism in fish held in the vicinity of wastewater treatment plants). The automated composite samplers proved robust with regard to successful water collection (>95% of deployed units in our latest field season), and low within‐ and among‐unit variation relative to programmed collection volumes. Overall, we feel that this test system has excellent potential for integrated chemical‐biological monitoring of contaminants in a variety of field settings. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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