Hydraulic fracturing is often criticized due in part to the potential degradation of ground and surface water quality by high-salinity produced water generated during well stimulation and production. This preliminary study evaluated the response of the freshwater mussel, Elliptio complanata, after exposure to produced water. A limited number of adult mussels were grown over an 8-week period in tanks dosed with produced water collected from a hydraulically fractured well. The fatty tissue and carbonate shells were assessed for accumulation of both inorganic and organic pollutants. Ba, Sr, and cyclic hydrocarbons indicated the potential to accumulate in the soft tissue of freshwater mussels following exposure to diluted oil and gas produced water. Exposed mussels showed accumulation of Ba in the soft tissue several hundred times above background water concentrations and increased concentrations of Sr. Cyclic hydrocarbons were detected in dosed mussels and principle component analysis of gas chromatograph time-of-flight mass spectrometer results could be a novel tool to help identify areas where aquatic organisms are impacted by oil and gas produced water, but larger studies with greater replication are necessary to confirm these results.
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