The NCCOS Bioeffects Program has conducted environmental assessments of the nation's estuaries and bays since the early 1990s. A new report summarizes each of these studies in a standard format, allowing comparisons across locations and regions.
The assessments conducted include analyses of a comprehensive list of organic and inorganic chemical contaminants in sediment and tissue, multiple toxicity bioassays, and benthic biological community evaluations. The researchers carried out studies on the Atlantic (including Caribbean), Gulf, Pacific, and Alaskan coasts. All of these data are available for download at the National Status and Trends Data Portal.
Bioeffects studies look at not only the distribution and concentration of contaminants in an area of concern, but whether the amounts present are toxic and what impact those contaminants might have on the diversity and abundance of animals living there. Bioeffects data are used to assess the distribution, and magnitude of chemical impacts at a given location, and over broad spatial scales. Data are used in environmental risk assessments, damage assessments, and for planning future resource management and restoration activities. Bioeffects assessments also provide baseline habitat condition evaluations that are used to quantify the impact of oil and chemical spills, natural disasters, or industrial development projects.