Lead, Zinc, Copper, and Cadmium in Fish and Sediments from the Big River and Flat River Creek of Missouri's Old Lead Belt

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Environmental Geochemistry and Health



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The Old Lead Belt of Missouri was a major lead-producing region for over a century. Several large tailings piles and other industrial wastes remain behind, though mining operations in the region ceased in 1972. Samples of stream sediments and fish were collected from established sites on the Big River and Flat River Creek over a 3-year period from 1998 to 2000 to evaluate ongoing remediation efforts and determine the current impact of residual mining wastes. Benthic sediments and fish taken in the vicinity of inactive industrial sites were found to contain elevated concentrations of Pb, Zn, Cu, and Cd. Concentrations of Pb and Zn in fillets of suckers and sunfish, as well as in whole bodies of sunfish, correlate well with metal concentrations observed in surficial sediments. The results of analyses provide valuable quantitative information regarding specific sources, current levels of contamination, potential risk to public health, and will allow more accurate assessment of continuing remediation efforts.

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