A new study of the effects of lodge leaching in California’s lake beds has found that the chemicals are more likely to kill fish than other chemicals in lakes.
The findings are part of a three-year study of water quality and sedimentation in the Los Angeles basin, conducted by scientists at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CalDFO).
The study was published online on Monday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The authors say that, because of the chemical nature of lodge dust, it’s not clear if it’s a contaminant in fish.
“There is no direct evidence that this is a contaminator of fish, but there is direct evidence of what we call potential effects,” said lead author Jonathan Tannenbaum, a marine ecologist at the University of California, Davis.
“It’s the only thing we know about it that it could affect fish.”
The study looked at the effects on fish of various concentrations of lodge gas and the chemical inorganic compounds that lodge leaves and branches release into the water column, including chlorine, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde.
Researchers analyzed samples from the Los Padres National Forest (LNPFS) and Lake Mead National Recreation Area (LNEAR) and the Los Altos River and the San Joaquin River watersheds, the LNPFS said in a news release.
The study focused on fish species that are not found in the California lake, including California lake trout and the California river catfish, a type of fish that is a common feeder for a variety of aquatic invertebrates, including fish, frogs and molluscs.
Tannensbaum and his team analyzed samples of the fish in the LNPSF and LNEAR lakes, which both drain into the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a major research center that studies chemicals and toxic metals.
The LNSPF and LANL are two of the largest lakes in the world, holding around 10,000 million gallons of water each.
Tana Tannenga, a scientist at LNPF, said the study found that, on average, lodge dust had higher levels of chlorine and hydrochlorate in fish than in water from other lakes.
These are chemicals that are known to kill algae and bacteria, according to Tannes.
The chemicals are released into the lake when the lake breaks apart and when the riverbed freezes.
This happens when the water freezes and thaws out, trapping more lodge gas, Tanns said.
The research team also found that lodge dust levels were higher in fish with less oxygen than in fish that were more oxygen deprived.
This can lead to fish death, Tana said.
TANNENBAUM: What’s the real reason for lodge dust?
Tannebs and his colleagues found that when the chemical concentrations of the lodge gas were increased to 500 parts per million, fish were more likely than others to die.
This was also true when the concentration of the formaldehyde was increased to 1,200 parts per milliliter.
When the formalaldehyde was added to the same concentration of lodge powder, fish died at an even higher rate than fish with no formaldehyde, the researchers said.
In addition, when they increased the concentration to 1 million parts per thousand, fish killed more than fish without formaldehyde in the same test.
Tanna said the results show that the chemical that lodge leaches from fish, and which is released into lakes in California, is a more likely contaminant than the chemicals used in conventional mining and quarrying, such as sand and gravel.
“In my opinion, the more dangerous [march] of the contaminants [in lodge dust] is, the less likely [methane] is going to be there,” he said.
However, he cautioned that this study was correlational.
“The data was correlating [with] a single set of samples,” he told The Associated Press.
“So the question is, do the fish with the higher concentrations of formaldehyde and chlorine survive?
I don’t know.”
The researchers also said the high concentrations of water molecules in lodge dust and formalldehyde could have an effect on fish reproduction, but this is uncertain.
“These findings provide important information about the effects that lodge gas has on fish health, but more research is needed to determine if these findings are applicable to other types of contaminants in lakes,” the study said.
“While these results are reassuring, they do not prove that lodge is a hazardous chemical to fish.
Further study is needed before definitive conclusions can be made.”
The authors also said that the new study doesn’t provide a definitive answer on whether lodge leeching is harmful.
Tanyani Pugh, an ecologist with the LA Regional Water Quality and Sustainability Laboratory, said that it’s possible that lodge poisoning in fish might be due to the chemicals in lodge.
“We don’t have the definitive answer yet,” she said