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Report also notes threat of contaminants in fish tissue
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the 2010 National Coastal Condition Assessment showing that more than half of the nation's coastal and Great Lakes nearshore waters are rated good for biological and sediment quality, while about one-third are rated good for water quality. In almost all coastal waters, however, contaminants in fish tissue pose a threat to sensitive predator fish, birds, and wildlife. The National Coastal Condition Assessment is part of a series of National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS) designed to advance the science of coastal monitoring and answer critical questions about the condition of waters in the United States.
The summarized findings are:
Excessive phosphorus, potentially from sources such as sewage and fertilizers, is the greatest contributor to the poor water quality rating in coastal waters. It can result in undesirable algae blooms, lowered concentrations of dissolved oxygen and reduced water clarity. Selenium is the greatest contributor to the poor ecological fish tissue rating. It is a naturally occurring mineral in the environment that may be increasing due to human activities. Selenium is an essential dietary nutrient for all organisms. However, it exhibits highly bioaccumulative properties. Chronic exposure to selenium concentrations greater than background levels can adversely affect reproductive and early life-stage success in wildlife.
EPA conducted the National Coastal Condition Assessment in partnership with state water quality agencies and other federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. One in a series of surveys conducted under EPA's National Aquatic Resource Survey program, it is based on sampling conducted in 2010 at 1,104 sites in the coastal waters of the U.S. and nearshore waters of the Great Lakes. It is the fifth in a series of reports assessing the condition of coastal waters of the US. National surveys have been completed for wadeable streams (2004), lakes (2007), rivers and streams (2008 to 2009), coastal waters (2010), and wetlands (2011). EPA and its partners plan to continue to assess each of these waterbody types on a five-year rotating basis.