Scientists have suspected for several years that chemicals from tire wear particles are to blame for the deaths of thousands of coho salmon that have returned to spawn in Puget Sound’s urban streams. Sometimes referred to as “pre-spawn mortality” or “urban runoff mortality syndrome,” these deaths typically occur in streams near roads, and scientists have been analyzing a wide variety of automobile-derived chemicals to see if they produced similar toxic effects. Now, thanks to some painstaking detective work by our partners at the University of Washington Center for Urban Waters […]
An EPA-funded team of scientists and other experts has completed draft recommendations for the future cleanup of toxic chemicals in Puget Sound. The group’s Toxics in Fish Implementation Strategy addresses pollutants such as PCBs and a slew of emerging contaminants that can affect species throughout the waterway. The strategy will be available for public review until October 16th after which it may be revised and submitted to the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council for approval. The Washington State Department of Ecology is co-developing the strategy with the Department of Commerce […]
Reprinted by permission of the Environmental Protection Agency: Puget Sound Institute senior scientist Andy James and his colleagues at the Center for Urban Waters are the recipients of a $76,601 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate and prioritize contaminants of emerging concern in the Lower Columbia River (OR, WA) . James and his team will use the funding to monitor previously unmonitored contaminants, such as endocrine disruptors, in the Columbia River to determine whether they harm important species. Monitoring will take place from the Portland metro area to Wauna, […]
The Puget Sound Institute’s Andy James is the corresponding editor of a 2019 report on monitoring and research activities focused on toxic contaminants in the Salish Sea. The report from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program covers a range of case studies including the occurrence of microplastics and pharmaceuticals in shellfish, PCBs in river otters and new findings on persistent contaminants and heavy metals in fish. Copies are available on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound and other sources on the Web.
By Jeff Rice The governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force released its final report and recommendations today, focusing on three key threats to Puget Sound’s endangered orcas: Lack of food, disturbance from noise and vessel traffic, and toxic contaminants. In all, the report makes 36 recommendations for recovering the fast-declining orca population, which now stands at 74 animals. “The extinction of these orcas would be an unacceptable loss,” reads the report, which identifies a wide variety of potential actions that will require extensive funding and long-term commitment on the part of […]
Findings authored this month by University of Washington scientists at the Center for Urban Waters and their collaborators provide new insight into “urban runoff mortality syndrome” affecting Puget Sound coho. By Jeff Rice Chemicals linked to automobile tires have been found in stormwater associated with the widespread deaths of coho salmon in Puget Sound. The findings were presented this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and elevate tires as a prime suspect in “urban runoff mortality syndrome,” a condition that has been endangering coho salmon runs in the region. For […]
PSI collaborator Ed Kolodziej has received a $330,000 National Science Foundation grant to expand his research on toxic pollutants in Puget Sound. Kolodziej’s project will identify chemicals in stormwater that are killing coho salmon and endangering some spawning runs. The project includes a collaboration with citizen scientists who will alert project members to salmon die-offs as they are happening. Kolodziej’s team will then collect water and tissue samples from these sites that they will analyze at the labs of PSI’s parent group the Center for Urban Waters. Project summary In […]
Chemicals, disease and other stressors can increase a salmon’s chance of being eaten or reduce its ability to catch food. We wrap up our series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project with a look at some of the lesser-known, but still significant factors contributing to salmon declines in the Salish Sea. Read the story in Salish Sea Currents.
Thousands of abandoned wood pilings — the ghosts of piers and docks past — are located throughout Puget Sound. Most of them are treated with creosote, a toxic chemical used to preserve wood that contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of chemicals that are also associated with oil spills and burning of fossil fuels. While creosote-treated pilings are used less for construction of new piers, scientists at two state agencies are now studying the impacts of existing pilings on herring and shellfish populations along with the effectiveness of removal […]
A new study shows a surprising decline in some toxic chemicals in Puget Sound fish, while levels of PCBs increased in some cases. Scientists say the study shows that banning toxic chemicals can work, but old contaminants remain a challenge as they continue to wash into Puget Sound. Read our story in Salish Sea Currents.