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Water Quality Monitoring

Statewide Toxics Monitoring Program

Program Overview

mapIn 2008, the DEQ Laboratory implemented a statewide water quality toxics monitoring program. Lab staff sample water, fish and sediment on a rotating basin basis. Land use, population pressures, legacy contamination and discharges are all factors in choosing monitoring sites.

Overall, goals for DEQ's Water Quality Toxics Monitoring Program are to:
  • Gather information to characterize the presence and concentration of chemicals of concern in Oregon’s waters.
  • Use this information to identify sources of these chemicals.
  • Present and make available information gathered for public benefit.
  • Work with DEQ internal groups, community groups and Oregon citizens to identify opportunities for reducing these pollutants.
The lab expects to complete its survey of the state by the end of 2013. By building on these efforts, DEQ will develop a complete, continuing toxics monitoring strategy over the next several years.

Analyzing toxics
The DEQ laboratory analyzes seven major categories of toxics. Read more about the specific toxics categories DEQ investigates.

DEQ laboratory staff sample sites on a rotating basin schedule during spring, summer, and fall. Collection of all types of samples does not occur at each site. Access, site appropriateness, species availability and hydrology, all determine the types of samples collected. Also, the lab does not analyze all types of samples for all the chemical categories described above.

Some pollutants, because of their chemical structure and behavior in the environment, are more likely to be found in fish and sediment. These pollutants are often bioaccumulative, meaning the concentration of the chemical increases in the tissues of organisms up the food chain. These pollutants have potential impacts on humans through fish consumption. The laboratory analyzes fish tissue and sediments for these pollutants including legacy pesticides, flame retardants, industrial intermediates and combustion byproducts.

Click on all images for full size view.

Basin summary Graph Toxics Fish Summary
This chart shows chemicals detected in water (2008 to 2012) by
category, in Oregon water basins. In water, detections occur most
frequently for current-use pesticides and metals.

This chart shows flame retardants and industrial intermediates detected in fish (2008 to 2012) in Oregon. Detections of these two categories of chemicals occurred at every site sampled.

As the water quality toxics monitoring program completes the statewide monitoring cycle in 2013, DEQ laboratory staff will review data collected. Additional efforts are underway to align chemicals investigated by the program with other efforts within DEQ and the state, such as DEQ’s Toxics Reduction Strategy.

For questions, comments or information about DEQ's Toxics Monitoring Program, please contact: Lori Pillsbury Water Quality Toxics Monitoring Program Coordinator.

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For more information about DEQ's Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division please email LEAD.


Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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