The goal of this project is to identify, quantify and assess risks to ecological
and human health for emerging marine contaminants of concern. Learn
more about the background information for this project »
Click here for a full project report
Many contaminants currently entering estuaries have not been well characterized
due to the lack of widely available methodologies for their detection and quantification.
These contaminants include a wide variety of compounds such as pharmaceuticals,
industrial byproducts (eg. flame retardants), and pesticides. New, potentially hazardous
compounds will continue to emerge over time and it is imperative that NOAA have
both the infrastructure and research initiatives to assess their potential to impact
both ecosystem and human health.
The Emerging Marine Contaminants Program is developing the analytical methods necessary
to measure these contaminants and is beginning to characterize their distribution
in estuaries. Additionally, this program is evaluating the potential of these contaminants
to cause toxicity in a variety of model estuarine species as well as the pathways
by which they may pose a risk to human health. The results obtained by this research
initiative will provide a framework for the development of a comprehensive risk
assessment for these emerging contaminants in the estuarine/marine environment.
The objectives of the Emerging Marine Contaminants project include the following:
- Identify a priority list of emerging contaminants of concern in the estuarine environment;
- Modify the priority contaminant list as new information becomes available;
- Develop analytical methods for the quantification of emerging contaminants of concern;
- Evaluate the effects of these contaminants in estuarine organisms and their potential
to impact human health;
- Document the presence of these contaminants in the estuarine/marine environment;
- Develop a comprehensive Risk Assessment for the identified contaminants in the estuarine
The expectations for the Emerging Marine Contaminants project are to identify Emerging
Contaminants of Concern and develop the analytical capabilities to detect and quantify
them in the marine environment, as well as to develop appropriate toxicological
and risk assessment protocols for determining their potential to impact ecological
and human health.
- We have, to date, identified three groups of emerging contaminants of concern for
study. These include the brominated flame retardants; pharmaceutical compounds;
and current use pesticides.
- Developed analytical methods for the quantification of several pyrethroid insecticides
in estuarine waters. These included resmethrin, bifenthrin, and permethrin.
- Developed analytical methods for the quantification of antifouling biocides (e.g.
Irgarol) in estuarine/marine sediments.
- Expanded sampling efforts to characterize the distribution of antifouling biocides
in water and sediments of coastal waters from various geographic locations ( California,
Puerto Rico, South Carolina).
- Developed analytical methods for the quantification of brominated flame retardants
(PBDEs) in estuarine/marine sediments and began to assess the distribution of these
contaminants in the estuarine environment ( South Carolina, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf
of Mexico, South Atlantic Bight).
- Evaluated the the presence of pharmaceutical compounds in sewage effluent and their
potential movement into estuarine waters.
- Evaluated the toxicity of simvastatin, irgarol, and PBDE-47 in adult and larval
grass shrimp and juvenile clams and the toxicity of irgarol in algae and the mud
- Evaluated biomarkers of exposure (glutathione, lipid peroxidase and cholesterol)
for all three compounds in adult and larval grass shrimp.
- Continued evaluations of NMR-based metabonomics as a potential biomarker of contaminant
exposure and/or effects in fish using a model toxicant (chlorpyrifos).
- Began evaluations of NMR-based metabonomics as tool in dolphin health assessments.
Transfer of Results
Results will be transferred to regulatory agencies and natural resource managers
through scientific professional meetings and workshops.
In May 2005, the investigators hosted a workshop of fellow scientists to exchange
research information, identify emerging contaminants and current methods for analysis,
and learn about the potential risks associated with particular compounds or compound
classes. A summary of this meeting can be obtained from Michael Fulton (contact
information is below).
M.Fulton. Emerging Marine Contaminants Research at the NOAA Center of Excellence
for Oceans and Human Health at the Hollings Marine Laboratory. Ocean Sciences Meeting.
Honolulu, HI. February 2006.
D. Bearden, E. Pollock. Metabolic profiling of dolphins from two sites along the
Atlantic Coast. Poster presentation at 26th Annual Society of Environmental Toxicology
and Chemistry, Baltimore, MD. November 2005.
M.DeLorenzo, L. Serrano. Mixture toxicity of the antifouling compound irgarol to
the marine phytoplankton species Dunaliella tertiolecta. Platform presentation
at the 26th annual Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Meeting, Baltimore,
MD. November 2005.
M. Fulton. Development of an emerging marine contaminant research program at the
NOAA Center of Excellence in Oceans and Human Health at the Hollings Marine Laboratory.
Platform presentation at the 18 th Biennial Conference of the Estuarine Research
Federation, Norfolk, VA. October 2005.
P. Key, J. Hoguet, L. Reed, M. Fulton. Lethal and sublethal effects of simvastatin
on two grass shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio) life stages. Platform presentation
at 26th Annual Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Baltimore, MD.
E. Pollock, D. Bearden. Effect of chlorpyrifos exposure on the metabolome of mummichogs.
Poster presentation at 26th Annual Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry,
Baltimore , MD. November 2005.
Y. Sapozhnikova, E. Wirth, F. Clum, M. Fulton. Antifouling biocides in the marine
environment. Carolinas SETAC, Raleigh, NC. March 2005. Platform presentation at
26th Annual Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Baltimore, MD. November
DeLorenzo, M.E., Serrano, L. (In Press) Mixture toxicity of the antifouling
compound irgarol to the marine phytoplankton species Dunaliella tertiolecta
J. Environ. Sci. Health, Part B
Finnegan, M.C., Pittman, S., DeLorenzo, M.E. Effects of two antifoulant paint compounds,
irgarol 1051 and copper, on the mud snail, Ilyanassa obsoleta. Southeastern Estuarine
Research Society Fall Meeting, 19-21 October 2006, Savannah, GA.
Pollock, E.C., Chung, K.W., Hoguet, J., Key, P., Fulton, M., Bearden, D.W., Metabolomic
studies on tidal creek fish Fundulus heteroclitus . Poster presentation
at the 2 nd Metabolomics Society Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, June 2006.
Pollock, E.C., Fair, P.A., Bearden, D.W., Metabolic profiling of dolphins from two
sites along the Atlantic Coast . Poster presentation at the 2 nd Metabolomics Society
Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, June 2006.
Manuscript in preparation: Metabolic profiling of Atlantic Coast dolphins.
Manuscript in preparation: Metabolic studies on Fundulus Heteroclitus.
Public Information and Outreach:
Deliver useful and timely information, tools, methodologies, technologies to end-users
and targeted audiences, on the relationship between oceans and human health focused
on reducing human health risks.
As demonstrated by the publications and presentations cited above, this
project is disseminating timely information on methodologies and assessments of
the potential impacts of Emerging Marine Contaminants to a variety of targeted audiences
and end-users. Additionally, we are collaborating with a variety of other Federal
and State agencies on emerging contaminant issues. Specific examples include our
collaboration with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to determine
the distribution of Irgarol and other antifouling agents in
California marinas. The information we provide on these compounds
will be useful for their Risk Assessment process. We are also collaborating with
other Federal agencies (EPA, USGS, FDA, CDCCDC) on the development of a document
that will describe a strategy for addressing Environmental Health concerns of pharmaceutical
compounds in the environment.
For More Information
Contact: Michael Fulton, (843)762.8576