Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Leonard Durham


The Anaconda American Brass Company at Mattoon, Coles County, Illinois was found to discharge waste containing excessive amounts of copper, hexavalent chromium, sulfates, acids, and alkalies. These wastes were found to enter an agricultural field tile system and to emit at the Shellhammer tile where they entered a small unnamed creek, a large pond along Interstate 57, and Riley Creek.

Tests of the Shellhammer tile and Anaconda American Brass Company effluent were conducted from March, 1970 thru May, 1971. Maximum concentrations determined were as follows: (1) copper -- 15.5 ppm; (2) hexavalent chromium -- 1.5 ppm; (3) pH -- range of 2.3 - 12.4; (4) phosphates -- 8.0 ppm; (5) sulfates -- 1500 ppm. Oil, although not measured chemically, was observed to coat the banks and surface of the receiving waterway on several occasions. The phosphate and oil pollutional sources were not pinpointed in this study.

Natural fish kills (393 dead fish collected) below the tile outfall were found to be associated with excessive copper and chromate levels and/or an extremely acidic pH on one occasion while very alkaline pH levels and/or high sulfate levels seemingly accounted for the three remaining kills.

Results of two practical.toxicity bioassays using creek chubs (Semotilus atromaculatus) revealed copper (4.2 - 12.5 ppm) and/or hexavalent chromate (0.85 - 1.45 ppm) to apparently cause 100 percent mortality just below the effluent outfall within 72 hours and 100 percent mortality one-half mile below Shellhammer tile outfall within 48 hours. The second experiment showed copper of 8.5 ppm and/or a pH level of 3.3 to apparently cause 100 percent fish mortality within 24 hours.

Other biota observed to be adversely affected by the tile effluent were algae, crayfish, and muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus). Massive amounts of Ulothrix were noted to succumb during the periods of heavy copper and chromate pollution in July, 1970. However, Ulothrix, Zygnema, Stigeoclonium, Microspora, Spirogyra, and Euglena survived copper concentrations ranging from 0.10 - 2.50 ppm during the spring of 1971.

Included in

Toxicology Commons