American Journal of Environmental Sciences

An Assessment of Mirex Concentrations along the Southern Shorelines of the Great Lakes, USA

Dennis A. Apeti and Gunnar G. lauenstein

DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2006.95.103

American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 2, Issue 3

Pages 95-103


Mirex is a persistent and toxic polychlorinated pesticide that has compromised environmental quality in the Great Lakes region since the 1960s. As a bioaccumulative and carcinogenic compound, mirex at its current levels in Lake Ontario is a concern because of the potential for trophic level transfer and biomagnification in top predators. As a part of the NOAA’s National Status and Trends Program (NS&T), zebra mussels and surficial sediments were surveyed throughout the Great Lakes since 1992 to monitor a broad suite of contaminants, including mirex. The non-parametric Wilcoxon test revealed that Lake Ontario consistently had the highest mirex concentrations (p < 0.0054) followed by Lake Erie while Lakes Huron and Michigan had the lowest concentrations. Current concentrations of mirex at Lake Ontario sites are at or above the NS&T benchmark of 85th percentile (2.33 ng g-1 dry weights) determined among all sites in the Great Lakes. The Spearman correlation statistic revealed an overall decreasing trend in tissue concentration, but this decline is only significant in Lake Ontario (p< 0.02) over the monitoring period 1992-2004. Photodegradation, volatilization, fishing and loss via the St Lawrence River are discussed as mechanisms resulting in the mirex decline.


© 2006 Dennis A. Apeti and Gunnar G. lauenstein. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.