Romanok, K.M., Bradley, P.M., and Battaglin, W.A., 2018, Occurrence data for organic compounds and bioactive chemicals in water, sediment and tissue from Rocky Mountain National Park, 2012-13: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/P9XUYMQT.
Pharmaceuticals, hormones, pesticides, and other bioactive contaminants (BCs) are commonly detected in surface water and bed sediment in urban and suburban areas but these contaminants are understudied in remote, protected locations. In Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA (RMNP) BCs may threaten the reproductive success and survival of native aquatic species, benthic communities, and pelagic food webs. In 2012-2013, 67 water, 57 sediment, 63 fish, 10 frog, and 12 quality-assurance samples (water and sediment) were collected from 20 stream, pond, or wetland sites in RMNP. Samples were analyzed for 369 parameters including 149 pharmaceuticals, 22 hormones, 137 pesticides, and 61 other chemicals or conditions to provide a comprehensive assessment of BCs occurrence within RMNP. Results indicate that BCs were detected in water and/or sediment from both remote and more accessible locations in RMNP. Some detected contaminants, including carbaryl, caffeine, and oxycodone, are clearly attributable to direct local human input, whereas others may be transported into the park atmospherically (e.g., atrazine), or have local natural sources (e.g., p-cresol). One or more pharmaceuticals was detected in at least 1 sample from 15 of 20 sites. Most of the 29 detected pharmaceuticals are excreted primarily in human urine, not feces. Elevated total estrogenicity (>0.45 ng/L 17-estradiol equivalents) was observed in 18% of water samples and elevated vitellogenin (> 1 milligram per milliliter) in blood was observed in 12% of male trout, both evidence of potential endocrine disruption. Concentrations of hormones in sediment tended to be much greater than the concentrations of hormones in water. Bioactive contaminants commonly occurred in complex mixtures in RMNP, however no individual BC was observed above recognized adverse-effects concentrations. Results indicate that even in remote locations aquatic wildlife can be exposed to pharmaceuticals, hormones, pesticides, and other bioactive contaminants at low concentrations.