Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Squam Watershed

In 2005 Squam loons experienced a dramatic decline followed by years of breeding failures. The Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) investigated the cause of this precipitous decline by testing non-viable eggs for contaminants. Many eggs exhibited high levels of both legacy (such as PCBs) and modern (flame retardants such as PBDEs) contaminants. Results from tributary sediment tests indicate high levels of DDT and PCBs in two Squam tributaries. The tests suggest DDT is from more recent application, even though the chemical was banned in 1972.

The LPC’s discovery of toxic chemicals, such as PCBs and DDT, in sediment in Squam’s tributaries and loon eggs is concerning. Though worrisome, these chemicals bind to sediments that settle to the lake bottom, and it is unlikely they pose any immediate threat to people swimming and playing in and on the lake. We think following current NH fish advisories for the consumption of freshwater fish is a good idea. New Hampshire Fish and Game's freshwater fish consumption advisory can be found here:

We are working with NH Department of Environmental Services and the LPC to follow this up, study it, and are doing everything we can to make sure there is no long term threat to the lake, the people, and the wildlife that call this place home. We are the watershed organization for this lake and dealing with this type of threat to the lake is why we are here. Next steps include further testing and reaching out to watershed communities.

Contact SLA Director of Conservation Rebecca Hanson with questions or for more information.