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Report Shows Choptank Pollutant Concentrations Exceed Water Quality Standards

A National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science report published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found that the average copper levels in the lower Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore were at least four times higher than water quality standards meant to protect aquatic life. Some of the highest concentrations of copper were found not far from the marinas of Cambridge, Maryland.

The report found that the copper levels exceeded EPA acute water quality standards in 64 percent of the samples analyzed. These are levels at which some aquatic life will die when exposed in a lab test. “These data indicate that copper exposure especially in the lower Choptank estuary may be problematic for aquatic species,” the report states.

The researchers discovered that the copper levels were not high upstream, near agricultural areas -– suggesting that farming was not the source of the metal. (A form of the metal, copper sulfate, is sometimes used to kill algal blooms in farm ponds). But the metal concentrations were high downstream, in an area where there are several marinas and lots of boats, according to the report.

Related NCCOS Center(s):
Shorter web link for sharing: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=1592

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