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Lake Mead Endocrine Disruption Studies Environmental Assessment of Chemical Stressors and Effects on Fish Health within Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Collaborative effort between:

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Lake Mead Endocrine Disruption StudiesEnvironmental Assessment of Chemical Stressors and Effects on Fish Health within Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Collaborative effort between:

US Geological Survey, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Texas Tech University, University of Nevada, Desert Research Institute

U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey

Research contacts l.jpg

USGS personnel

Project coordinator: Michael R. Rosen

(Sed. –Hydro.) [email protected]


Toxicologist: Steven Goodbred [email protected]

Fish Biologist: Reynaldo Patiño

[email protected]


Chemist: Kathy Echols

[email protected]


Risk analyst: Greg Linder

[email protected]


Fish microbiologist: Jill Jenkins

[email protected]


Research Contacts

  • Partners

  • Toxicologist: Erik Orsak

  • USFWS [email protected]

  • 702-515-5243

  • Foodweb biologist: Sudeep Chandra

  • UNR [email protected]

  • 775-354-4849

  • Microbiologist: Duane Moser

  • DRI [email protected]

  • 702-378-7639

Las Vegas skyline

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In Cycle I NAWQA, NVBR Study Unit collaborated with Steve Goodbred (BRD) in an assessment of fish health in Lake Mead and Las Vegas Wash using new techniques (SPMDs)

Sampled water, fish and bed sediment

Results published in: Bevans and others, 1996 WRIR 96-4266

How it all began

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Senator Reid took an interest in what was happening in Lake Mead

Funded study in 1999-2000 to do a seasonal assessment of fish health

Results published in Patiño and others 2003 and Goodbred and others 2007

SNPLMA funding becomes available in mid 2000s

What Happened next

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Third year of 4-year Round 6 work is almost completed Mead

Project team sampling has been completed

Involvement of UNR and DRI welcomed

Well balanced study

New publications are available

What is happening now?

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AP article on pharmaceuticals in water supplies and their effect on aquatic organisms has created quite a bit of interest in our work

Senate hearing April 2008

What is happening now?

Reno Gazette-Journal March 11, 2008

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Endocrine Disruption effect on aquatic organisms has created quite a bit of interest in our work

Process by which external chemical causes adverse health effects after changes in endocrine function

For more about endocrine disruption;

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Study Area effect on aquatic organisms has created quite a bit of interest in our work

Environmental Issues

Current Study



Next Steps

Lake Mead Study - Overview & Update

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Study Area – Lake Mead National Recreation Area effect on aquatic organisms has created quite a bit of interest in our work

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Las Vegas Wash - Multiple potential sources of environmental contaminants

Elevated levels of synthetic chemicals in water, sediment and fish in Las Vegas Bay

Carp in Las Vegas Bay show signs of reproductive or endocrine disruption

Environmental Issues

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Study Goals environmental contaminants

  • Evaluate evidence of reproductive- or endocrine-disrupting effects in multiple species, particularly trust species

  • Examine evidence for trends of adverse effects in fish

  • Determine if emerging

    contaminants are increasing

    over time

  • Assess flux of contaminants

    from or to sediments

  • Assess risk of contaminant

    exposure to multiple species

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Study Approach environmental contaminants

  • Use multiple lines of evidence (passive samplers, sediment, and fish tissue) to document if fish in Lake Mead are exposed to EDCs

  • Employ multiple endocrine and reproductive biomarkers to determine if exposure in fish has disrupted the endocrine system

  • Conduct tests on fish using treated effluent to see how various levels of treatment reduces endocrine effects

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Study Progress - Overview environmental contaminants

  • Chemistry

  • 1. Distribution of contaminants

  • 2. Contaminants in fish


1.Sperm quality

2. GSI


1. Exposure is occurring

2. Over time effects are consistent

3. We are now evaluating the risks

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Deployment and Retrieval of SPMDs environmental contaminants

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Study Progress – Water Chemistry environmental contaminants

Distribution ofContaminants

37 ng = Total EDC (2) = Number of EDCs

Overton Arm

37 ng (2)

Upper LV Wash

464 ng (6)

Boulder Basin

1,248 ng (3)

LV Bay

18,433 ng (8)

Lower LV Wash

300,062 ng (13)


9 ng (1)

CR-Willow Beach

64 ng (1)

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Study Progress – Water Chemistry environmental contaminants

Is there a flux of contaminants from the sediment or are contaminants moved seasonally from LV Wash to LV Bay



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Individual contaminants environmental contaminants

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PAHs environmental contaminants

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Was conducted summer 2008 (when plume was at the surface) environmental contaminants

New application of SPMDs

Planned and executed with Dave Alvarez (CERC) and Steve Goodbred (SAC)

New Flux Experiment

Las Vegas Bay

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To float environmental contaminants

Metal plate

may need to have some

holes in it to let water flux through

36 inch SPMD/POCIS




These would be spread around the plate (not in a line)

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Study Progress – Sediment Chemistry environmental contaminants 1998 cores

Distribution of Contaminants - Different contaminants peak at different times



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Low concentrations of the following compounds were detected: environmental contaminants

Tonalide (AHTN), galoxolide (HHCB), methyl salicylate - Fragrances

Para-cresol - Many sources (wood preservative, combustion product, fragrances, flavoring, etc.)

BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) - Food preservative

2,6-dimethylnaphthalene –

PAH degradation product

0 – 10 cm depth Sediment results

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Purpose is to look for emerging contaminants that were not analyzed in the 1998 cores

Also FWS is interested in Selenium

No data available yet

New cores collected in March 2007

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Reproductive Biomarkers used analyzed in the 1998 cores

  • Gonadal-Somatic-Index (GSI): gonads as a percent of body weight.

  • Sex Steroid Hormones:

  • Estradiol (E2): primary sex steroid for female fish, critical to egg growth and development.

  • 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT): primary male sex steroid for many fish species, critical to spermatogenesis.

  • Testosterone: sex steroid precursor for both estradiol and 11- ketotestosterone.

  • Vitellogenin (Vtg): egg yolk protein produced by the liver in response to estradiol.

  • Sperm Quality: motility, viability, histology.

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Study Progress – Biology analyzed in the 1998 cores

Contaminants in Fish - LV Bay (1999/2000 Study)

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Study Progress – Summary analyzed in the 1998 cores

Contaminants in female whole body (March 2006)

Exposure is still occurring

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Study Progress - Biology analyzed in the 1998 cores

Sperm Quality and GSI –Testicular size is consistently smaller throughout the year for fish in Las Vegas Bay compared to fish in Overton Arm

Las Vegas BayOverton Arm

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Sperm Counts: 2007 analyzed in the 1998 cores

P = 0.027

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Male GSI: Lake Mead 2006 analyzed in the 1998 cores

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Willow Beach tumorous testis analyzed in the 1998 cores

Testicular tumor in common carp collected from Willow Beach (WB CC-43, Nov 2007)


Non-tumorous testis

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Could be caused by: analyzed in the 1998 cores

Hybrids (goldfish-Carp) present

Environmental conditions not conducive to fish reproduction (cold water)

EDC chemicals (PCBs)

found in fish and sediment

Federal hatchery may

have an influence

Willow Beach issues

Willow Beach

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Round 5 Results – Males analyzed in the 1998 cores

Reproductive hormones


  • Comments

  • Highest levels of plasma 11KT and 11KT/E2 ratios found in OA males

  • Lowest levels of plasma 11KT and 11KT/E2 ratios found in LVB males

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Study Progress – Summary analyzed in the 1998 cores

Exposure and biological effects are consistent over time -

1995 Study - Indicated effects on biomarkers of fish health

1999 - 2000 Study - First yearlong seasonal study of endocrine disruption that also confirmed results of 1995 and 1998 studies

2006 – 2008 Study – Continued effects on biomarkers of fish health, seasonal sampling still being done, effects at Willow beach need to be examined closer

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Food web – UNR analyzed in the 1998 cores

Food web results not yet available

Microbial work – DRI



HPLC chromatograph displaying 10 ppm (yes 10 ppm!)

Incubation for 2 weeks with sample from Las Vegas Wash.

Large peak from 1 – 2 min derives from media components.



Food web and Microbial work



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Contaminant inputs into Lake Mead from Las Vegas Wash have been apparent from 1995 to present

Distribution of contaminants in water show LVB containing low concentrations throughout the bay

Fish health has been compromised particularly in Las Vegas Bay, but also possibly at Willow Beach

Sediments show emerging contaminants are present in upper 10 cm at least


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Expand assessment to include: been apparent from 1995 to present

biomarkers of general health, reproductive, endocrine, and metabolic status

contaminant history and fluxes

multiple aquatic species

Next Steps

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Perform fish screening assay using: been apparent from 1995 to present

wastewater effluent

fathead minnows

Task in cooperation with SNWA, Clark County wastewater treatment facility, Clean Water Coalition, and FWS

Next Steps

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Perform risk assessments using: been apparent from 1995 to present

Current hydrologic conditions

Proposed changes to hydrologic conditions

Task in cooperation with Clean Water Coalition

Lake Mead Marina Moved due to drought

Next Steps

Las Vegas Bay Marina

Pre-drought water level

March 2007

March 2008

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Publications been apparent from 1995 to present

  • Leiker, T.J., Abney, S.R., Goodbred,S.L., and Rosen, M.R., 2009, Identification of methyl triclosan and halogenated analogues in both male common carp (Cyprinuscarpio) from Las Vegas Bay and Semipermeable Membrane Devices from Las Vegas Wash, Nevada.Science of the Total Environment, 407, 2102-2114

  • Rosen M.R. and Van Metre, P.C. 2009, Assessment of multiple sources of anthropogenic and natural chemical inputs to a morphologically complex basin, Lake Mead, USA. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Available online at the journal..

  • Rosen, M.R., Goodbred, S.L., and Leiker, T.J., 2007, Use of passive samplers for detecting vertical gradients of organic contaminants in Lake Mead: Nevada Water Resources Association 2007 annual conference, Reno, Nev. February 20-22, abstracts, unpaginated

  • Rosen, M.R., and Van Metre, Peter, 2007, Use of lacustrine sediments to reconstruct contaminant histories in complex sedimentary environments: 4th International Limnogeology Congress, Barcelona, Spain, July 2007, programme and abstracts book, p. 100

  • Goodbred, S.L., Leiker, T.J., Patino, Reynaldo, Jenkins, J.A., Denslow, N.D., Orsak, Erik, and Rosen, M.R., 2007, Organic chemical concentrations and reproductive biomarkers in common carp (cyprinuscarpio) collected from two areas in Lake Mead, Nevada, May 1999-May 2000: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 286, 19 p.

  • Rosen, M.R., Goodbred, S.L., Patino, Reynaldo, Leiker, T.J., and Orsak, Erik, 2006, Investigations of the effects of synthetic chemicals on the endocrine system of common carp in Lake Mead, Nevada and Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2006-3131, 4 p.

  • Rosen, M.R., Leiker, T.J., and Goodbred, S.L., 2006, Use of passive samplers for detecting vertical gradients and potential sources of organic contaminants to Lake Mead, Nevada, U.S.A.: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 38, no. 7, p. 160