Distribution of persistent organic contaminants in Canyons and on the continental shelf off central California
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Distribution of persistent organic contaminants in Canyons and on the continental shelf off central California
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    "The National Status and Trends (NS&T) Program conducts studies to determine the spatial extent and severity of chemical contamination and associated adverse biological effects along the coast and in estuaries of the United States. Sediment contamination in U.S. coastal areas is a major environmental issue because of its potential toxic effects on biological resources and often, indirectly, on human health. A large variety of contaminants from industrial, agricultural, urban, and maritime activities are associated with bottom sediments, including persistent organic chemicals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and trace metals. Critical habitats and food chains supporting many fish and wildlife species involve the benthic environment both inshore and offshore. Contaminants in the sediments may pose ecological risks through degraded habitats, loss of fauna, and biomagnification of contaminants in the ecosystem. Thus, characterizing and delineating areas of sediment contamination are viewed as important goals of coastal resource management. This report addresses the physical and chemical contaminant characteristics of the soft bottom benthic habitat on the continental shelf and upper continental slope of the central California region. This information will be integrated with biological data on benthic infaunal communities, and additional chemical and biological sample collections taken during subsequent years, which are still being analyzed. The intent is to contrast the benthic communities between canyons, between canyon flanks and central axis habitats, and between canyons and adjacent slope habitats. The broader objective is to assess the potential impact(s) of physical stressors and contaminants on the benthic community in differing habitats found in this region. Macrobenthic organisms play an important role in the marine environment. As secondary consumers in the offshore ecosystem, they represent an important link between detritus-based food webs and higher trophic levels. They are also an important food source for juvenile fish and crustaceans"--Introduction.
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