KWRRI Research Reports


Many samples of water, bottom sediment, and fish were analyzed for toxic metal ion content. The samples were collected from several selected sites along Kentucky and Barkley Lakes as well as the Cumberland River and several sub-impoundments along these aquatic systems. Emphasis was placed on selenium, although several other metal ions were determined. The results showed that there are no serious pollution problems with As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Pb, Se, Sr, Zn, or Zr at any of the sites examined. Actually, none of the trace metals examined even come close to the EPA limits on fish, with the exception of lead in the White Crappie and mercury in the Bass. There appears to be no serious problem with lead in White Crappie as only two fish out of a total of nineteen were above the limit of 2 PPM. The same holds for mercury in the bass as only three fish out of thirty four were above the 0.5 PPM level. Water and sediment analyses for the above mentioned metal ions fell well within expected "normal" limits for unpolluted fresh water systems. No point sources could be identified for any of the metal ions. This is in contrast with results obtained on the lower Tennessee River by Hancock, et al. in which a large chemical complex was found to contribute significant quantities of trace metals. No significant seasonal variation of trace element content was observed in any of the sample types. Since the selenium content of all samples was so low, no laboratory bioaccumulation data were obtained. No general correlation between fish length and trace element content could be established, although there was a relationship for some elements, usually positive but sometimes negative. There was some correlation between trace element content and area and between elemental content and species of fish. However, these relationships are complex and depend on the trace element studied. The most important conclusion to be drawn from this study is that at this time there appears to be little problem with trace metal pollution in Kentucky and Barkley Lakes.

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The work upon which this report is based was supported in part by funds provided by the Office of Water Research and Technology, United States Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., as authorized by the Water Research and Development Act of 1978. Public Law 95-467.