New York Field Office
Northeast Region

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Genesee River, Rochester, NY
For the past two years, Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Contaminants Biologists in New York State have been conducting a study to evaluate whether contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) pose a threat to fish and wildlife in the Genesee River, near Rochester, New York.  CECs include substances such as flame retardants, discarded medicines, personal care products, plasticizers, new pesticides, and detergents.  These contaminants are associated with agricultural and urban runoff, combined sewer overflows, wastewater treatment plants, and industrial waste. They are becoming more widespread in the environment and are frequently not regulated by state or federal water quality programs.  These substances may be toxic to fish and wildlife or have other non-lethal biological effects (for example feminization of male fish).

In 2010 and 2011, we collected fish, water, and sediment from a number of locations in the Genesee River.  Study partners from the U.S. Geological  Survey evaluated fish for signs of internal and external tumors and other developmental abnormalities that may be caused by exposure to contaminants.  Preliminary results reveal that lower Genesee River water and sediment samples contained chemicals such as hormones (estrogen), pesticides (DEET, atrazine), wastewater treatment plant indicators (caffeine, cholesterol), medicine (lidocaine), flame retardants, coal tar, detergents, and plasticizers.  This study is part of a larger study being conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service throughout the Great Lakes, funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Fish Tumor and Other Deformities Beneficial Use Impairment, Niagara River Area of Concern, Fact Sheet (pdf)

Contaminants of Emerging Concern Study, Rochester Embayment Area of Concern, Fact Sheet (pdf)

Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Beneficial Use Impairment, Rochester Embayment Area of Concern, Fact Sheet (pdf)

Wetland Assessment in the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern in Support of the Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat BUI Removal Evaluation (16 MB pdf)



Great Lakes Restoration Site



Fish sampling in the Genesee River

GLRI Fish Sampling, Genesee River, USFWS

Fish sampling in the Genesee River

GLRI Fish Sampling, Genesee River, USFWS


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Last updated: October 31, 2014
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.