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Oil Shale Processing as a Source of Aquatic Pollution: Monitoring of the Biologic Effects in Caged and Feral Freshwater Fish

Arvo Tuvikene, Sirpa Huuskonen, Kari Koponen, Ossi Ritola, Ülle Mauer and Pirjo Lindström-Seppä
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 107, No. 9 (Sep., 1999), pp. 745-752
DOI: 10.2307/3434660
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3434660
Page Count: 8
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Oil Shale Processing as a Source of Aquatic Pollution: Monitoring of the Biologic Effects in Caged and Feral Freshwater Fish
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Abstract

The biologic effects of the oil shale industry on caged rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) as well as on feral perch (Perca fluviatilis) and roach (Rutilus rutilus) were studied in the River Narva in northeast Estonia. The River Narva passes the oil shale mining and processing area and thus receives elevated amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, and sulfates. The effects of the chemical load were monitored by measuring cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A)-dependent monooxygenase (MO) activities [7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase and aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase (AHH)] as well as conjugation enzyme activities [glutathione S-transferase (GST) and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase] in the liver of fish. CYP1A induction was further studied by detecting the amount and occurrence of the CYP1A protein. Histopathology of tissues (liver, kidney, spleen, and intestine) and the percentage of micronuclei in fish erythrocytes were also determined. Selected PAHs and heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Hg, and Pb) were measured from fish muscle and liver. In spite of the significant accumulation of PAHs, there was no induction of MO activities in any studied fish species. When compared to reference samples, AHH activities were even decreased in feral fish at some of the exposed sites. Detection of CYP1A protein content and the distribution of the CYP1A enzyme by immunohistochemistry also did not show extensive CYP1A induction. Instead, GST activities were significantly increased at exposed sites. Detection of histopathology did not reveal major changes in the morphology of tissues. The micronucleus test also did not show any evidence of genotoxicity. Thus, from the parameters studied, GST activity was most affected. The lack of catalytic CYP1A induction in spite of the heavy loading of PAHs was not studied but has been attributed to the elevated content of other compounds such as heavy metals, some of which can act as inhibitors for MOs. Another possible explanation of this lack of induction is that through adaptation processes the fish could have lost some of their sensitivity to PAHs. Either complex pollution caused by oil shale processing masked part of the harmful effects measured in this study, or oil shale industry did not have any severe effects on fish in the River Narva. Our study illustrates the difficulties in estimating risk in cases where there are numerous various contaminants affecting the biota.

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