Journal article

A probabilistic ecological risk assessment of tributyltin in surface waters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed

Hall L, Scott M, Killen W, Unger M ...see all

Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, vol. 6, issue 1 (2000) pp. 141-179

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The goal of this study was to conduct a probabilistic ecological risk assessment for tributyltin (TBT) in surface waters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Ecological risk was characterized by comparing the probability distributions of environmental exposure concentrations with the probability distributions of species response data determined from laboratory studies. The overlap of these distributions was a measure of risk to aquatic life. Tributyltin exposure data from the Chesapeake Bay watershed were available from over 3600 water column samples from 41 stations in nine basins from 1985 through 1996. Most of the stations were located in the Virginia waters of Chesapeake Bay, primarily the James, Elizabeth and York Rivers. In Maryland waters of the Bay, various marina, harbor and river systems were also sampled. As expected, the highest environmental concentrations of tributyltin (based on 90th percentiles) were reported in and near marina areas. The sources of TBT causing these high concentrations were primarily boat hulls and painting/ depainting operations. Lower concentrations of TBT were reported in open water areas, such as the Potomac River, Choptank River and C and D Canal, where the density of boats was minimal. Temporal data from a ten year data base (1986-1996) from two areas in Virginia showed that TBT water column concentrations have declined since 1987 legislation prohibited the use of TBT paints on recreation boats (

Author-supplied keywords

  • acute toxicity
  • butyltin
  • chesapeake bay watershed
  • copepod
  • ecological risk assessment
  • estuarine
  • grass shrimp
  • marine infaunal amphipods
  • palaemonetes-pugio
  • sediments
  • sensitivity
  • survival
  • tributyltin

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  • L W Hall

  • M C Scott

  • W D Killen

  • M A Unger

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