Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Brent D. Palmer


Water, sediments, floodplain soils, and fish from Big and Little Bayou creeks were assessed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals in 1987-2005. The streams were impacted by effluents from the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP). PCBs were rarely detected in water samples. Aroclor 1248 detections in sediments and floodplains were sporadic, but 1254 and 1260 were consistent. Seasonal variations were only observed for Aroclor 1248. Detection of PCBs in floodplains indicated recent influx of contaminated sediments. Species-specific PCB residues patterns were studied for Lepomis cyanellus, L. megalotis, L. macrochirus, and Campostoma anomalum. Highest PCB concentrations were found in stoneroller minnows. PCBs decreased over time in sunfish species, but retained a baseline level. No relationships were found between sunfish age and PCB concentrations. At low PCB levels, green sunfish body burden (BB) did not correlate with lipid content. A certain PCB concentration must be exceeded before PCB BB correlates with lipid content. Stream flows differed by season, and fish PCB BB differed by season, but stream flow did not correlate with fish BB. Congener groups corresponded to Aroclor concentrations. Higher chlorinated biphenyls peaked in the spring for sport fish. PCBs remobilized in the spring resulted in higher summer BB for the stoneroller minnows, whereas sunfish eliminated PCBs by summer. This variability was due to the sunfishs ability to regulate PCBs. Metal concentrations did not display the seasonal variability evident in the PCB data. Water metals may have peaked during storm events and decreased rapidly. Water Pb increased with time, but the source could not determined. Zinc in Little Bayou creek likely originated from the PGDP. Except for Cu and Zn, stoneroller minnow metal BB decreased with time. Metal BB were used to determine bioavailable fractions. Less than half of the water column Cd, Cr, Fe, and Pb in impacted areas were bioavailable to stoneroller minnows, whereas 59% of Ag, 73% of Cu, and 64% of Zn were bioavailable. Cumulative criterion units were calculated to determine additive metal impacts, and proved useful in locating sectors with possible ecological impact. In-situ monitors proved valuable in studying PCB and metal behavior under real-world conditions.