Responses of white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) to 20 years of process and waste treatment changes at a bleached kraft pulp mill, and to mill shutdown

L K Bowron, K R Munkittrick, M E McMaster, G Tetreault, L M Hewitt
Aquatic Toxicology 2009 November 8, 95 (2): 117-32
The impacts of pulp mill effluents on white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) have been studied at Jackfish Bay, ON, Canada since the late 1980s. The site receives effluent from a large bleached kraft pulp mill which is the only source of chemical contamination in the area. Many laboratory studies have looked at the toxicological consequences of pulping process changes, but the benefit of these changes have not been looked at in wild fish. Jackfish Bay white sucker showed impacts on sexual maturity, gonad size, secondary sexual characteristics and circulating steroids hormone levels in the early years of the studies, and impacts were evaluated after installation of secondary treatment (1989), major pulping process changes (1995) and after the mill ceased pulp production and effluent release (2006). The addition of secondary treatment resulted in minor improvements in wild fish health, and the conversion to elemental chlorine free (ECF) bleaching at the mill was associated with more recovery in liver and gonad size. While some impacts persist at the exposure site, reproductive parameters showed further improvement during the mill shutdown period demonstrating that biologically active chemicals are still being discharged from modernized mills.

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