John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Historical decline and altered congener patterns of polychlorinated dibenzo‐p‐dioxins and dibenzofurans in fish and sediment in response to process changes at a pulp mill discharging into Jackfish Bay, Lake Superior

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Improved regulations for pulp and paper mill effluents and an industry shift away from elemental chlorine bleaching in the 1990s greatly reduced the release of polychlorinated dibenzo‐p‐dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) into the environment. However, the high potential of these contaminants to persist in sediment and bioaccumulate in biota means that they have remained a concern. To document current contamination from bleached kraft pulp mill effluent, PCDD/Fs were measured in white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) collected from Jackfish Bay, Lake Superior. These values were contrasted to historically reported fish data as well as PCDD/F patterns from dated sediment cores. Patterns of PCDD/Fs in sediment cores from Jackfish Bay and reference sites demonstrated a relationship between contamination and mill process changes. During the peak PCDD/F contamination period (1991), when the mill was still using elemental chlorine, the contamination patterns in fish and sediment were distinct and dominated by 2,3,7,8‐tetrachlorodibenzo‐p‐dioxin and 2,3,7,8‐tetrachlorodibenzofuran. Following the reduction in the use of elemental chlorine during the early 1990s, a rapid decline was observed in PCDD/F contamination of fish tissue, and levels are now approaching background conditions with congener patterns more reflective of atmospheric sources. Although surface sediments from Jackfish Bay continue to have elevated PCDD/Fs, with some locations exceeding sediment quality guidelines, they do not appear to be highly bioavailable to benthic fish. Environ Toxicol Chem 2015;9999:1–14. © 2015 SETAC

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