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Water: News

Newsletter—April 2009

Recent Advisory News

Annual Missouri fish consumption advisory released

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has released its annual Fish Consumption Advisory for fish caught in the state. New this year is an additional species on the statewide list, suggesting that walleye should be consumed only once a month because of mercury contamination.

Source: Riverfront Times (MO), 3/11/2009

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PFOS in Minnesota lake fish

PFOS, a chemical formerly made by 3M, has been found in fish taken from more metro area lakes in Minneapolis. The compound was measured at levels of concern in 13 of 22 lakes, mostly in bluegills, black crappies and largemouth bass. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) released the data Monday from fish tested in 2008, the agency's third year of checking fish. Pat McCann, research scientist for the Minnesota Department of Health, said that the data are being reviewed and that the department may issue advice about eating fish less often from some of the lakes.

The study also detected PFOS in Fish Lake and Wild Rice Lake near Duluth, and in the Mississippi River near 3M's Cottage Grove plant. The company manufactured PFOS and similar chemicals for decades until 2002. The compounds were used in hundreds of products including stain-resistant fabric coatings and firefighting foam.

Source: Star Tribune (MN), 3/3/2009

Changes in diet and contaminant levels in Great Lakes anglers

Anglers who ate Great Lakes fish have 33 percent fewer PCBs and 43 percent less DDT in their bodies than they did a decade ago, primarily because they changed their diet and switched to less contaminated fish, according to a study by Wisconsin researchers. "Many of the people who fished Lake Michigan changed the preference of the fish they were eating," said Candy Schrank, environmental toxicologist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "They moved from eating lake trout in the earlier years, which are a fattier, more polluted fish and switched to cleaner fish," such as salmon and perch.

Source: Environmental Health News, 2/26/2009

Mercury advisories released in Colorado

Several western Colorado reservoirs were added last week to the state's fish consumption advisory list. The warnings will include signs posted at each place. Researchers are in the midst of a five-year study, looking for contaminated sites around the state, said Steve Gunderson, director of the Water Quality Control Division of the Department of Health. A compete list of waters and details of the advisories can be found at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/wq/FishCon/analysesExit EPA Disclaimer.

Source: Grand Junction Sentinel (CO), 2/25/2009

Ohio releases new fish consumption advisories

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced new fish advisories on Wednesday, March 4. Because of widespread mercury poisoning largely from coal-burning power plants, a statewide advisory of one meal per week for all fish, except those noted in specific advisories, remains in place. The advisories for Grand Lake St. Marys and Mogadore Reservoir were relaxed because mercury levels from fish in those locations have dropped. In addition to the updates, all Ohio fish advisories can be found on Ohio EPA's Web site at http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw/fishadvisory/index.htmlExit EPA Disclaimer.

Source: Dayton Daily News (OH), 3/4/2009

Utah halts testing fish for mercury

Utah's wildlife and water officials have been testing fish for mercury every year, but funding has run out and officials say there is no money budgeted to test fish for mercury this year and next. The EPA is testing frozen fish samples for the state, and environmental officials have been sending batches of frozen fish each week to the EPA's testing laboratory since December.

Source: The Associated Press (AP), 2/17/2009

Ni'ihau's fish-kill mystery unresolved, but ban lifted

Residents of the Hawaiian island of Ni'ihau are being told by state health officials that they can once again eat the fish they catch for the first time since thousands of dead fish washed ashore in January. Island residents suspect the fish kill was due to rat poison dropped on the nearby bird sanctuary island of Lehua earlier that month, but state and federal officials said tests have shown no evidence of that. Don Heacock, a Kaua'i-based aquatic biologist with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said he thinks it's unlikely the rat bait killed the fish. Most of the dead fish were found off the southeastern section of Ni'ihau while Lehua is to the northwest.

Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI), 3/11/2009

Current Events

Fish consumption and risk of Alzheimer's disease

The authors reviewed the evidence for the protective properties of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (from fish consumption or taken as a supplement) against dementia and Alzheimer's disease. They found that current data suggest long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may help slow cognitive decline in elderly individuals without dementia, but small clinical trials did not provide evidence that they can help in the prevention or treatment of any form of dementia. This might reflect differences in study designs, but large clinical trials are needed to provide definitive answers.

Fotuhi, M., P. Mohassel, et al. (2009). "Fish consumption, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimer disease: a complex association." Nat Clin Pract Neurol 5(3): 140-52.

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Method for calculating the risks and benefits of fish consumption

The authors investigated 16 commonly consumed species to create a quantitative method of analyzing the risk from mercury and benefit from omega-3 fatty acid consumption for each species. They found that for some species, such as farmed salmon, herring, trout, estimated omega-3 benefits did outweigh the risks of mercury. Risks outweighed benefits for other species such as swordfish and shark. Other species were associated with a small net benefit (e.g., flounder, canned light tuna) or a small net risk (e.g., canned white tuna, halibut). The authors suggest that separate population advice appears warranted for the neurodevelopmental risk group versus the cardiovascular risk group, because they found a greater net benefit from fish consumption for the cardiovascular risk group.

Ginsberg, G. L. and B. F. Toal (2009). "Quantitative approach for incorporating methylmercury risks and omega-3 fatty acid benefits in developing species-specific fish consumption advice." Environ Health Perspect 117(2): 267-75.

Method for detecting organohalogen compounds in fish oil

The authors analyzed fish oil using gel permeation chromatography followed by direct sample introduction comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography mass spectrometry to identify multiple groups of organic pollutants and halogenated natural products (HNPs) simultaneously. The results revealed that PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, and other smaller organohalogen compounds were still present in two brands of "PCB-free" cod liver oils, although at much lower levels than in an untreated commercial sample. PBDEs and brominated HNPs were detected at similar levels in all three cod liver oils, suggesting that the commercial treatment used for removal of toxic contaminants is only effective for the lighter organic contaminants.

Hoh, E., S. J. Lehotay, et al. (2009). "Simultaneous Quantitation of Multiple Classes of Organohalogen Compounds in Fish Oils with Direct Sample Introduction Comprehensive Two-Dimensional Gas Chromatography and Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry." J Agric Food Chem Mar 5. [Epub ahead of print].

Food web structure and effects on methylmercury in predator fish

Previous studies have suggested that removing competitors from a lake can result in increased growth and decreased mercury concentrations in the remaining fish. This study evaluated mercury concentrations in lake trout (a native predator) both before and after the large-scale removal of smallmouth bass (an introduced predator) in an Adirondack lake. The authors found that mercury concentrations in lake trout actually increased significantly when bass were removed, because the lake trout diet now included prey fish with higher mercury levels instead of invertebrates. Lake trout growth also increased after bass removal. This study indicates how changes in food web structure can alter mercury concentrations in top predators.

Lepak, J. M., J. M. Robinson, et al. (2009). "Changes in mercury bioaccumulation in an apex predator in response to removal of an introduced competitor." Ecotoxicology Mar 10. [Epub ahead of print].

Regression models for predicting organochlorine pesticides in fish

The authors developed empirical regression models to estimate concentrations of dieldrin, total chlordane, and total DDT in whole fish from U.S. streams. Models were based on pesticide concentrations measured in whole fish at 648 stream sites nationwide by the USGS from 1992-2001. The models predicted concentrations were highest for dieldrin in the Corn Belt, Texas, and scattered urban areas; for total chlordane in the Corn Belt, Texas, the Southeast and urbanized Northeast; and for total DDT in the Southeast, Texas, California, and urban areas nationwide. The authors caution that these models may overestimate present-day pesticide concentrations in fish, because they are based on fish data collected during the 1990s, and organochlorine pesticide residues in the environment continue to decline.

Nowell, L. H., C. G. Crawford, et al. (2009). "Regression Models for Explaining and Predicting Concentrations of Organochlorine Pesticides in Fish from Streams in the United States." Environ Toxicol Chem Feb 12:1. [Epub ahead of print].

Mercury in fish downstream from historic gold mines

This study examined mercury concentrations in whole fish from Camp Far West reservoir in northern California, located downstream from lands mined for gold from 1848-1864. The highest concentrations of mercury in fish, water, and sediment were found upstream in the Bear River arm of the reservoir, while concentrations were generally lower elsewhere, including downstream near the dam. The results indicate that concentrations of mercury in all three fish species, but especially bass, were high enough to warrant concern about consumption of fish from the reservoir.

Saiki, M. K., B. A. Martin, et al. (2009). "Mercury concentrations in fish from a Sierra Nevada foothill reservoir located downstream from historic gold-mining operations." Environ Monit Assess Mar 13. [Epub ahead of print].

Contaminants in bass near a former DDT plant

This study measured organochlorine pesticide and total PCB concentrations in largemouth bass from the Tombigbee River near a former DDT manufacturing facility at McIntosh, Alabama. Evaluation of isomer proportions in bass indicated that DDT is moving off site from the facility and into the Tombigbee River. The authors found that concentrations of p,p'-DDT isomers in McIntosh bass remained unchanged from 1974 to 2004 and were four times greater than the national average.

Hinck, Jo Ellen, Ross J. Norstrom, Carl E. Orazio, Christopher J. Schmitt, Donald E. Tillitt. (2009). "Persistence of organochlorine chemical residues in fish from the Tombigbee River (Alabama, USA): Continuing risk to wildlife from a former DDT manufacturing facility." Environmental Pollution, Volume 157, Issue 2, February 2009, Pages 582-591

National probabilistic study of fish contamination

The authors review the design and results of the National Lake Fish Tissue Study (NLFTS), which was the first survey of fish contamination in lakes and reservoirs in the 48 conterminous states based on a probability survey design. The study developed national estimates for 268 persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals in fish tissue from lakes and reservoirs. Mercury and PCBs were detected in all fish samples, with mercury concentrations exceeded the EPA 300 ppb criterion at nearly half of the lakes sampled. Total PCB concentrations exceeded a 12 ppb human health risk-based consumption limit at nearly 17% of lakes. Dioxins and furans were detected in 81% and 99% of predator and bottom-dweller samples, respectively, and concentrations exceeded a 0.15 ppt TEQ risk-based threshold at nearly 8% of lakes sampled. However, 43 target chemicals were not detected in any samples. including nine organophosphate pesticides and one PCB congener.

Stahl, Leanne L., Blaine D. Snyder, Anthony R. Olsen, and Jennifer L. Pitt. (2009). Contaminants in fish tissue from US lakes and reservoirs: a national probabilistic study. Journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. March 2009; 150(104): 3-19.

Targeted monitoring of sportfish in the Northeast

The authors reviewed recent efforts to collect and integrate fish mercury data and offer suggestions to improve future monitoring efforts in order to better address adverse health effects from fish consumption. Because of resource limitations, data collection should maximize the benefits of information gained through monitoring programs. They suggest that better targeting of the species and sizes of fish most commonly eaten can provide more comprehensive advisory results.

Lepak, Jesse M.; Shayler, Hannah A.; Kraft, Clifford E.; Knuth, Barbara A. (2009). Mercury Contamination in Sport Fish in the Northeastern United States: Considerations for Future Data Collection. BioScience, Volume 59, Number 2, February 2009 , pp. 174-181.

Bioaccumulation of PBDEs in the northwest Atlantic

The authors analyzed seven species of commercially important fish for PBDEs, and three species for Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). They found that PBDE concentrations averaged 63 ng/g, and HBCD was detected in 87% of the fish with a mean concentration of 17.2 ng/g. The study suggests recent exposure to the octa- and deca-BDE formulations in this US coastal marine food web due to the presence of higher brominated congeners (including BDE-209).

Shaw, S. D., M. L. Berger, et al. (2009). "Bioaccumulation of polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecane in the northwest Atlantic marine food web." Sci Total Environ Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print].

Meetings and Conferences

Mount Hood provides the backdrop for this view of the Portland, Oregon skyline. Source: http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov {{PD}} Photo courtesy USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory

2009 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish

November 2–4, 2009, Portland, Oregon.

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11th Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants

May 19–20, 2009, Ottawa, Ontario. For more information, please visit:

http://www.ec.gc.ca/scitech/default.asp?lang=En&n=6D0D0FE3-1Exit EPA Disclaimer

NEHA's 73rd Annual Educational Conference (AEC) & Exhibition

June 21–24, 2009, Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, please visit:

http://www.neha.org/AEC/2009/index.htmlExit EPA Disclaimer

For More Information

Please email the newsletter (bigler.jeff@epa.gov) if you would like to announce an upcoming meeting, conference, or to submit an article.


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