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Great Lakes Emerging Chemical Surveillance Program

The Emerging Chemical Surveillance Program screens for emerging chemicals in fish tissue according to their persistent, bioaccumulative, and/or toxic chemical properties. This element of the Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program is geared toward current use chemicals, chemicals currently under regulation, and or newly identified chemicals.  Information gained from this program is used to identify and guide state and federal monitoring programs. The Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program uses the information to decide what contaminants might need to be monitored on a regular basis.  

Types of chemicals identified through the Emerging Chemical Surveillance Program include:
•    Surfactants
•    Flame Retardants
•    Pharmaceuticals
•    Personal Care Products
•    Musks and Fragrances
•    Unregulated industrial chemicals

Assessing the health of the Great Lakes is a complex issue and involves an understanding of the chemical, physical, and biological processes within the Lakes.  For this reason, the Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program is including several special studies as part of the Program to help assess Great Lakes Health. Additional studies to complement the base Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program work include:

  • An assessment of chemicals present in individual top predators in one lake per year to compare to composite samples.  
  • An assessment of food web structure in one lake per year, including measurements of stomach content, fatty acids, and stable isotopes to gain a clearer picture bioaccumulation of chemicals through the food chain.  
  • An assessment of heavy metals in top predator fish.
  • An assessment of toxic chemicals to the livers of top predator fish to help determine the extent that these toxicants have on physiological changes in lake trout, including altering thyroid function, degradation of sex hormones, and metabolic function.
  • Analysis of fillet samples, provided by States, for emerging chemicals to augment and inform Fish Consumption Advisory Programs. 
  • Analysis of chemicals present in lake water, that may bioaccumulate in fish, through the use of passive samplers.
  • Screening for emerging chemicals in eggs from top predator fish and to act as a surrogate for long-term trends of fish contaminant loads.