A new, online map of the Columbia River Basin shows where toxic contaminants are having an impact on fish and wildlife. The map is posted on the Council’s website here.
The map was developed through the efforts of a toxic contaminants workgroup whose members want to raise awareness of the issue of toxic contaminant impacts on Columbia River Basin fish and wildlife.
The workgroup focused on developing mapping products that will provide education on toxic contaminant issues across a broad spectrum of audiences. The group selected Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) as the pilot for a toxic contaminant map and public education tool for the basin. PAHs are a class of chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline and are also produced in the burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage, and tobacco. They can be present in the air and also can accumulate in places like parking lots, where runoff from rain can deposit them in streams or groundwater. These chemicals can affect humans, fish, and wildlife.
The workgroup compiled all readily available data on PAHs in the Columbia River Basin and organized those data into a standard template. The data then were incorporated into an online story map that includes information on the effects of PAHs on fish and wildlife, the potential sources of PAHs, and opportunities for reducing PAHs and their effects. The story map provides an example for mapping and displaying data and information about other toxic contaminants that affect fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin.
Members of the workgroup included staff from the Council, NOAA Fisheries, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Washington Department of Ecology, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, the Upper Columbia United Tribes, the Yakama Nation, the United States Geological Survey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and others.