Gulfwatch examines the effects of decades of development and industrialization on the water quality of the Gulf as it relates to human health primarily through assessing contaminant exposure of marine organisms. Gulfwatch scientists collect blue mussels at over 60 US and Canadian sites Gulfwide, and analyze the organisms’ tissue for potentially harmful levels and concentrations of toxins including heavy metals, chlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). New Hampshire increased the number of Gulfwatch sampling locations from two sites per year in 1997 to an average of five sites per year from 1998-2010. The increased spatial coverage provides comprehensive information for contaminant concentrations throughout the New Hampshire estuarine waters. All samples collected for the Gulfwatch monitoring program, from the Canadian provinces as well as the New England states involved, have been sent to the same laboratories for analysis. All of the samples have been analyzed at the same time in the same laboratories in an effort to reduce error and variability. This practice has ensured the consistency that was necessary to allow a region-wide assessment of the health of the Gulf. During the 2010 sampling season, mussels were collected at six sampling locations in New Hampshire and Maine (MECC, NHHS, NHDP, NHRH, NHPI and NHLH). Project Goals and Objectives The goal of this project was to provide data for two PREP indicators of estuarine condition: TOX1 and TOX3. These two indicators report on “Shellfish tissue concentrations relative to FDA standards” and “Trends in shellfish tissue contaminant concentrations”, respectively. Both of these indicators depend on data from the Gulfwatch Program. In particular, TOX3 requires annual data at benchmark sites to assess trends. In 2010, PREP supported the collection and analysis of tissue samples from benchmark mussel sites in Hampton-Seabrook Harbor and Dover Point.
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
Wood, Matthew A. and Trowbridge, Philip R., "Shellfish Tissue Monitoring in Piscataqua Region Estuaries 2010: Final Report" (2011). PREP Reports & Publications. 27.