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03-28-2006

Researchers from Clarkson University, SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Oswego Will Monitor Great Lakes Fish for Mercury and Other Pollutants

[A Photograph for newspaper use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/holsen-hopke-epa.jpg]

The USEPA Great Lakes National Program has announced that it has awarded Clarkson, SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Oswego a five-year, $1.75 million grant to provide chemical analysis in Great Lakes fish tissue. The Principal Investigator, responsible for overall program management, is Thomas M. Holsen, professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Clarkson. Philip K. Hopke, the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor and professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, James Pagano, Director, Environmental Research Center (ERC), Department of Chemistry, SUNY Oswego and Michael Milligan, Professor, Department of Chemistry, SUNY Fredonia are co-PIs. hopke

The GLFMP program consists of two separate tasks to monitor contaminants in whole predator fish and in game fish fillets:

Task one, Open Lakes Trend Monitoring Program for whole fish, monitors contaminant trends in whole-fish composites of 600 to 700 mm lake trout from Lakes Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Superior and of 450 to 550 mm walleye from Lake Erie. The fish will be analyzed to assess temporal trends in organic contaminants in the open waters and to assess the risks of contaminants found on the health of the fish and the wildlife that consumes them.

Task two, Game Fish Fillet Monitoring Program, monitors potential human exposure to contaminants through consumption of popular sport fish, as well as, providing temporal trend data for top predator species. Coho salmon and Chinook salmon will be collected from Lakes Michigan, Huron Ontario, and Superior, and rainbow trout will be collected from Lake Erie during the fall spawning run. Composites of fillets from each species will be analyzed for organic contaminants to assess potential human exposure.

The GLFMP project will last for five years and involve continuous methods of development refinement and evaluation. The GLNPO will release $700,000 during the first two years and $1,050,000 during the remaining three years. The project will analyze approximately 110 samples per year. In addition to the samples, the team will analyze quality control samples consisting of a homogenate of Great Lakes lake trout that contains known amounts of pollutants. To identify pollutants in the water, a broad gas chromatography to mass spectrometry (GS/CM) scan (or a scan for a predetermined set of analytes) will be conducted.

As PI for the project, Holsen will actively participate in the GLFMP steering committee, comprised of representatives from participating Great Lakes states and tribes, federal agencies, and GLNPO. The committee's task is to assure the integrity of the program through data quality evaluation, assessment of the measurement process and outreach.

The Great Lakes National Program Office and Environment Canada have also entered into a cooperative monitoring program that will focus on one lake every year cooperatively and rotate throughout the Great Lakes Basin. The research group will also participate in the two-nation, cooperative monitoring program.

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is a medium sized, nationally ranked research university bringing team-based learning and real-world industry models together to educate tomorrow's business, engineering, arts and sciences, and health sciences leaders. One Clarkson graduate in 12 is a president, CEO, vice president, or owner of a company. The faculty achieves international recognition for their research and scholarship and connects the University's 3,000 undergraduate, master and Ph.D. students to their leadership potential in the marketplace.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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