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Open Lakes Trend Monitoring Program

Contact Information

For further information on the Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program, please contact:

Elizabeth Murphy (murphy.elizabeth@epa.gov)
Environmental Scientist
EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
(312) 353-4227 or 1-800-621-8431 x34227

Access the Data

Data produced by the GLFMSP can be obtained through the Great Lakes Environmental Database Query System or through the University of Illinois Extension website Exit EPA Disclaimer

You can also contact the program manager, Elizabeth Murphy, for information regarding the GLFMSP and/or supporting data.

Peer reviewed journal articles published using GLFMSP data can also be found on the Reports & Links page.

Current Base Analyte List
Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program
aldrin oxychlordane
cis-nonachlor p,p’-DDD
delta-BHC p,p’-DDE
dieldrin p,p’-DDT
endosulfan I PBDE congeners
endosulfan II PCB Congeners
endosulfan sulfate polychlorinated dibenzodioxins
endrin polychlorinated dibenzofurans
heptachlor epoxide total toxaphene & homologs
hexachlorobenzene trans-chlordane
mercury trans-nonachlor
mirex α-BHC
o,p’-DDT β-BHC
octachlorostyrene δ-BHC (Lindane)

The Open Lakes Trend Monitoring Program monitors contaminant trends in whole fish from the open waters of the Great Lakes and evaluates trends and the effect of toxics on fish and fish consuming-wildlife. Fish samples are collected in the fall of each year. Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) between 600 and 700 mm in length are collected and analyzed from Lakes Michigan, Ontario, Huron, Superior and the eastern basin of Erie and walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) between 400 and 500 mm in length are collected from both basins in Lake Erie. Similar sized fish are collected to reduce the impact of size variation on contaminant trend data. The Program maintains a historical archive that houses samples collected in the early 1970's through the present that may be available for future analysis. Whole fish samples are composited and homogenized to obtain representative samples for analysis. Whole fish, including parts not usually eaten by humans such as the liver and bones, are used because wildlife consume the entire fish. The current analyte list for the Open Lakes Trend Monitoring Program is provided here.

A separate, yet complementary, program is currently operated by Environment Canada. The Fish Contaminants Monitoring and Surveillance Program Exit EPA Disclaimer began in 1977. The purpose of the program is to survey collectively, the concentration of contaminants in selected species of fish and other biota with the specific objective of determining environmental trends in contaminant levels and to relate these to sources of such pollution, the effectiveness of remedial actions, and the risk to fish and fish-consuming wildlife in aquatic ecosystems across Canada.

These two programs actively coordinate and collaborate.

In addition to these contaminants, method development and confirmational screening is currently underway for emerging contaminants as part of the Emerging Chemical Surveillance Program.

Contaminant Trends in Great Lakes Whole Fish

Due to chemical bans and stricter emissions standards, concentrations of most legacy pollutants are declining in Great Lakes top predator fish, but at a much slower rate than previously measured. This is due to remaining contaminant sources, such as sediment, that may act as a source of contaminants (EPA 2004). Without remediation of these sites, the EPA wildlife protection value of 0.16 ppm will not be reached for many years. All data produced are available through the Great Lakes Environmental Database.

Trend Data and Graphs

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