ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-151216-31
Severe coal tar sealcoat runoff toxicity to fish is prevented by bioretention filtration
McIntyre, J., Edmunds, R., Anulacion, B., Davis, J., Incardona, J.P., Stark, J.D., Scholz, N.
Coal tar sealcoats applied to asphalt surfaces in North America, east of the Continental Divide, are enriched in petroleum-derived compounds, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The release of PAHs and other chemicals from sealcoat has the potential to contaminate nearby water bodies, reducing the resiliency of aquatic communities. Despite this, relatively little is known about the aquatic toxicology of sealcoat-derived contaminants. We assessed the impacts of stormwater runoff from sealcoated asphalt on juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and embryo-larval zebrafish (Danio rerio). We furthermore evaluated the effectiveness of bioretention as a green stormwater method to remove PAHs and reduce lethal and sublethal toxicity in both species. We applied a coal tar sealcoat to conventional asphalt and collected runoff from simulated rainfall events up to 7 months post-application. Whereas sealcoat runoff was more acutely lethal to salmon, a spectrum of cardiovascular abnormalities was consistently evident in early life stage zebrafish. Soil bioretention effectively reduced PAH concentrations by an order of magnitude and significantly reduced cardiotoxicity in zebrafish. Our findings show that inexpensive bioretention methods can markedly improve stormwater quality and protect fish health.