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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Release: October 1, 1998
Dorene E. MacCoy, Biologist
(253) 428-3600, ext. 2692

Organic compounds and metals found in Puget Sound streams

Elevated concentrations of DDT, other organic compounds, and trace metals were found in urban Puget Sound streams, according to a new fact sheet released today from the U.S. Geological Survey.

In addition to DDT, scientists found elevated concentrations of DDT breakdown compounds--DDE and DDD--as well as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These compounds might be harmful to aquatic organisms, such as fish and fish-eating wildlife.

Data were collected from stream sediment and fish tissue at 18 sites within the Puget Sound Basin as part of a national study to improve the understanding of the natural and human factors that affect water, sediment, and biological quality in our Nation's streams.

"The highest levels of PAHs in streambed sediment were found in the West Branch Kelsey Creek in Bellevue, which drains to Lake Washington and is designated as a salmon spawning stream," said Dorene MacCoy, lead author of the fact sheet and USGS biologist with the Puget Sound Basin National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program.

MacCoy also expressed concern about the DDT found in sediment in Thornton Creek in Seattle. "We frequently find the breakdown products, DDE and DDD, but the parent compound--DDT--has been banned from use in the U.S. since 1972. Futher investigation is needed to determine its source."

USGS Fact Sheet 105-98, "Organic Compounds and Trace Elements in Freshwater Streambed Sediment and Fish from the Puget Sound Basin," by Dorene E. MacCoy and Robert W. Black, is a product of the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment program.

For a free copy, contact the USGS Washington Water Science Center at 1201 Pacific Avenue, Suite 600, Tacoma, Washington 98402-4384, (253) 428-3600, extention 2653, or e-mail Luis Fusté, Information Officer, at It may also be viewed on the World Wide Web at

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