Oregon Sea Grant Special Funding - Water Quality and Japanese Marine Debris

Emerging Contaminants in Oregon Coastal Waters: Landscape Drivers and Synergistic Effects on Native Oysters (2103-15)

Elise Granek
Portland State University
Environmental Science & Management
1719 SW 10th Ave
Portland, Oregon 97207
Phone:    503-725-4241

Co-PIs:  Drs. Angela Strecker and William Fish, PSU, Environmental Science & Management

Sea Grant award dates: February 2013 – January 2015

Recent studies have found contaminants in Oregon coastal waters at great distances from human activities.  Determining pathways of chemical contamination into the tissue of marine invertebrates, especially commercially important species, is of urgent concern.  Little is known about how landscape features and precipitation patterns affect contaminant concentrations in water.  It is expected that wastewater treatment plants, roads, agriculture, and seasonal precipitation will alter the types and levels of contaminants found in coastal marine waters.

Dr. Granek set out to identify the types and levels of contaminants in native Olympia oysters (Ostrea lurida) and in surrounding waters, and to quantify the importance of large-scale human-influence on contaminant concentrations. Dr. Granek’s team sampled water from coastal Oregon native oyster habitat, and compared chemicals found in water with those found in oyster tissues at five co-located sites. Oyster and water samples were analyzed to identify types and levels of emerging and banned or restricted-use contaminants, including pharmaceuticals, estrogenic compounds, and personal care products.

This project addressed Oregon Sea Grant’s strategic goal of Enhancing the Sustainability of Coastal Ecosystems and the key issue areas of Oceans and Human Health and Watersheds and Water Resources.  In addition to outreach to natural resource agencies and education objectives for students and the public, the project team developed a database of the types and levels of contaminants at Oregon coastal sites containing native oyster habitat.

Strategic Plan Focus Areas: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems and Habitats, Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture, Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development