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Keywords:

  • Kraft mills;
  • Effluents;
  • Surveys;
  • Fishes;
  • Reproduction

Abstract

Pulp and paper mill effluents have been linked to effects on fish reproduction for more than 25 years. To date, the causes of these effects and remedial strategies have eluded investigators. Recent work has shown that the degree of reproductive effect caused by a mill effluent is related to the overall organic content. If verified, this could lead to breakthroughs for best management practices (BMPs). For this study, the effluents from seven kraft mills were assessed for their ability to reduce egg production in fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) in the laboratory. At the same time, the effluents were analyzed for three parameters thought to be good indicators of organic losses: biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), methyl-substituted 2-cyclopentenones (cellulose degradation products), and a gas chromatographic (GC) profile index, which integrates the total area of the chromatographic peaks of solvent-extracted effluents using low-resolution mass spectrometry. The results showed that the degree to which the effluents reduced egg production increased with increased organic losses as characterized by BOD and the GC profile index. Therefore, these parameters could be used to guide BMPs at kraft mills according to specific targets: BOD < 20 mg/L and GC profile index equivalent to effluent with BOD of 20 mg/L. Such targets should be achievable by good in-plant control of organic losses and optimized effluent biotreatment systems. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011; 30:1421–1429. © 2011 SETAC