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Assessment of Existing and Potential Anthropogenic Effects of Contaminants to Stellwagen Bank Fauna

A description of the available data on water, sediment and biota contaminant levels is presented elsewhere in this volume. The aim of this section is to assess whether these current levels of contaminants are having adverse effects on the organisms inhabiting the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary. It is not enough to simply know that a contaminant, even a totally synthetic toxicant, is present in the environment or has been taken up by organisms. The mere presence of a contaminant does not necessarily imply that an adverse effect will occur. A determination must be made as to whether the contaminant is present at a high enough concentration to cause harm. A determination is also necessary regarding bioavailability of the contaminant as well as its potential for adverse effects on animal populations. This requires much more information than that which is supplied solely by analytical chemistry.

In the present section, a variety of techniques will be applied to the analytical data which have been gathered on chemical contaminants from Stellwagen Bank water, sediments and biota. The primary emphasis will be on the assessment of organism health, although human health concerns, based on consumption of organisms harvested from the Bank region, will also be addressed.

 

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