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Fish pathogens have received increased attention as a factor impacting chronic Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) tests (i.e., as “interference” in these tests) and NPDES permit compliance determinations. Although various regulatory approaches can be applied to address the problem, confirming the presence of pathogens can be difficult. The goal of this study was to develop a systematic approach for identification and confirmation of fish pathogens based on studies with industrial effluents where fish pathogens were identified as the causative “toxicants” using the techniques presented herein. The study resulted in a very functional “weight of evidence” approach that provides three levels of certainty (symptomatic, preliminary identification, confirmation) regarding the causative role of fish pathogens. This allows a cost-effective, phased approach in resolving WET permit compliance issues. Various precedents exist for revising NPDES permit conditions once the role of effluent pathogens has been confirmed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2002

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