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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances


U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the Technical Meeting Charleston South Carolina March 8-12, 1999--Volume 2 of 3--Contamination of Hydrologic Systems and Related Ecosystems, Water-Resources Investigation Report 99-4018B

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Butyltin Contamination in Sediments and Lipid Tissues of the Asian Clam, Potamocorbula amurensis, near Mare Island Naval Shipyard, San Francisco Bay

By Wilfred E. Pereira, Frances D. Hostettler, and Terry L. Wade

This paper is available in pdf format (no figures): pdf Pereira.pdf


The former Mare Island Naval Shipyard, near Carquinez Straits in the northern reach of San Francisco Bay, California, has been a point source for introduction of butyltin compounds into the onshore and marine environment. Because tributyltin (TBT) is known to be a potent endocrine disrupting chemical, a study of butyltins in soil, benthic sediments, and lipid tussue of a common local bivalve, the Asian clam Potamocorbula amurensis, has been undertaken to evaluate the extent of the contamination. Soils from a sandblasting site at the shipyard contained low concentrations of mono-, di-, and tributyltin (0.3- 52 ng/g, total butyltin). Benthic sediments from nearby Mare Island and Carquinez Strait contained concentrations of total butyltin ranging from 1.3-8.1 ng/g. In contrast, clams accumulated much higher concentrations of di- and tributyltin (152-307 ng/g, total butyltin, with TBT and dibutyltin (DBT) making up from 54-85% and 15-46%, respectively, of the total butyl body burden of the clams). Biota Sediment Accumulation Factors (BSAFs) for butyltins in Potamocorbula were in reasonable agreement with literature values; they are greater than those of neutral hydrophobic compounds, suggesting that partitioning and binding processes may be involved in bioaccumulation. Therefore, there is potential for long-term chronic effects of TBT in San Francisco Bay.

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