Temporal and Spatial Trends in Chlorinated Hydrocarbon Concentrations of Mink in Canadian Lakes Erie and St. Clair
Mink (Mustela vison) carcasses were collected from local commercial trappers from fall 1998 to spring 2003 from tributaries and marshes within 4.8km from the shores of Lakes Erie and St. Clair, including the Wheatley Harbour and St. Clair River Areas of Concern (AOCs), as well as from inland sites (8 to 40km from shore). Liver concentrations, on a lipid weight basis, of chlorinated hydrocarbons were measured and compared among sites and to tissue concentrations of mink from two previous collections from similar sites over the past 25 years. Mink from the western Lake Erie sites, which included the Wheatley Harbour AOC, had significantly higher concentrations of sum PCBs and PCB Aroclors than those from the St. Clair corridor or inland sites, with concentrations from the rest of Lake Erie being intermediate. Dieldrin concentrations were also significantly higher in western Lake Erie than many other sites, and those of oxychlordane and mirex also tended to be higher (0.05 < p < 0.1). There were no differences in contaminant concentrations between the St. Clair River AOC and the downstream non-AOC Lake St. Clair site, with the exception of slightly higher levels of octachlorostyrene (OCS). Concentrations of PCBs and other chlorinated hydrocarbons in mink showed a general decrease over the past two decades. In contrast, PCBs and some organochlorine pesticides tended to increase, significantly so with oxychlordane, in western Lake Erie mink over the same time period. DDE declined at all sites. Currently, mink liver PCB concentrations are within the range associated with reproductive impairment, as determined from captive mink studies, in 11.7% of all animals collected from the Lakes Erie and St. Clair basin overall, but in almost 40% of individuals from western Lake Erie.