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Newsletter—December 2008

Recent Advisory News

Maine joins effort to force stricter mercury rules

Bangor, ME—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island have jointly petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce airborne mercury that drifts into the region and accumulates in fish. The states are invoking a Clean Water Act provision in hopes of tightening the emissions regulations on mercury-producing coal-fired power plants in the U.S. Although these states have taken steps to reduce the levels of mercury emitted locally, airborne mercury emitted from other states outside of the region is a major source of mercury in Northeastern waterways. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has committed to working with these states to develop stronger initiatives and mercury reduction plans.

Source: Bangor Daily News (ME); 10/30/2008

No 'smoking gun' found in Utah Lake PCB study

Salt Lake City, UT—In a recent study by Utah Department of Environmental Quality investigating PCBs in Utah Lake, no definitive source of the contamination was found. Fish consumption advisories have been issued for Utah Lake carp and channel catfish. Plans to remove non-native carp species are underway and it is hoped that PCB levels will drop once the PCBs accumulated in the carp are removed from the food chain.

Source: Deseret News (UT); 10/28/2008

Some anglers miss Hudson warnings

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Piermont, NY—The New York Department of Health has begun a 20-year outreach project to inform anglers and other consumers of Hudson River fish of fish consumption advisories on the river. The state has allocated $80,000 from a Hudson River dredging settlement to increase public awareness of the PCB fish consumption advisories along the Hudson River.

Source: The Journal News (NY); 10/29/2008

Freshwater fish from Midwest is overlooked

Toledo, OH—Fish and shellfish guides, such as the Smart Seafood Guide produced by Food and Water Watch, can provide excellent information about buying and consuming fish. The guide recommends choosing more local fish and shellfish over more distant options and also recommends wild fish catches when available. However, many guides overlook the Great Lakes as a fish and shellfish source and do not provide food safety or sustainable information for the region. For information on Great Lakes fish consumption advisories in the Ohio area, please see http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw/fishadvisory/counties/Lucas.htmlExit EPA Disclaimer .

Source: The Toledo Blade (OH); 10/28/2008

Health Department says it's safe to eat more fish in Minnesota

Twin Cities, MN—The Minnesota Department of Health has revised fish consumption guidelines which suggest that the general population may safely be able to increase the amount of fish they consume from local waters. The advisories are waterbody-specific and species-specific and are primarily aimed to aid subsistence populations that rely heavily on fish.

Source: Minnesota Public Radio (MN); 10/27/2008

Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks

A British study concluded that the nutrient composition in fish helps reduce the risk of kidney disease in patients with diabetes. Individuals who ate two or more servings of fish a week were less likely to excrete protein in their urine, a telltale sign of kidney disease.

Source: US News and World Report; 11/03/2008


Current Events

Temporal changes in PCB and DDE levels among a cohort of frequent and infrequent consumers of Great Lakes sport fish.

This study reports on the changes in consumption of Great Lakes fish species and the related blood serum concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 1, 1-bis (4-chlorophenyl)-2,2-dichloroethene (DDE) over the multi-year study period. Although most individuals reported an overall increase in total fish consumption, there was a significant decrease in consumption of sport fish, particularly by anglers and fishing boat captains. Serum concentrations of DDE and PCBs declined in most of the participants by 4.6% and 3.5% each year, respectively.

Knobeloch, L., M. Turyk, et al. (2008). "Temporal changes in PCB and DDE levels among a cohort of frequent and infrequent consumers of Great Lakes sport fish." Environ Res.

Risk assessment of toxaphene and its breakdown products: time for a change?

This article discusses a possible need to refine the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicological assessment of toxaphene. The EPA estimates risk exposure of toxaphene using technical toxaphene, whereas any recent environmental exposure to toxaphene occurs via exposure to degraded forms of toxaphene known as weathered toxaphene. The study cites European Union (EU) risk exposure estimates modeled using weathered toxaphene as a basis for risk comparisons. The authors suggest that the change in toxaphene exposure from technical toxaphene to weathered toxaphene over the last few decades may warrant an evaluation by EPA of the health risks associated with weathered toxaphene.

Lamb, J. C. T., B. H. Neal, et al. (2008). "Risk assessment of toxaphene and its breakdown products: time for a change?" Crit Rev Toxicol 38(9): 805-15.

Aquaculture practices and potential human health risks: Current knowledge and future priorities.

This article highlights the potential risks associated with aquaculture if the current practices persist. The aquaculture industry currently relies on nutritional, antibiotic and antifungal compounds which may impact concentrations of organic pollutants, metals, parasites and/or viruses and consequently impact human health. Therefore, the authors suggest that additional research is needed to determine the risks associated with aquaculture and the potential populations which may be impacted.

Sapkota, A., A. R. Sapkota, et al. (2008). "Aquaculture practices and potential human health risks: Current knowledge and future priorities." Environment International 34(8): 1215-1226.

Intakes of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids associated with reduced risk for death from coronary heart disease in healthy adults.

The authors of this study analyze the data from six major epidemiological studies to determine if the current recommended consumption levels of omega-3 fatty acids are adequate to significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) death in healthy adults. The dose-response relationship derived in this study indicates that approximately 566 milligrams per day of the long chain fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA, respectively) provides a significant reduction in CHD death. These findings are consistent with the current recommended consumption levels of two servings per week of oily fish (400-500 mg/d EPA + DHA).

Harris, W. S., P. M. Kris-Etherton, et al. (2008). "Intakes of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid associated with reduced risk for death from coronary heart disease in healthy adults." Curr Atheroscler Rep 10(6): 503-9.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in biota representing different trophic levels of the Hudson River, New York: from 1999 to 2005

Researchers analyzed 3,797 biological samples of 33 species of fish from the Hudson River in New York for exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The study was conducted between 1999 and 2005. Researchers found that 98.4% of the samples contained PBDEs between 0.5 and 37 169 ng g (-1) lipid, with a median concentration of 772 ng g (-1) lipid. The study did find changes in the yearly median concentrations. The highest median sigma PBDEs were found in large carnivorous fishes. The changes in PBDE concentrations may be due to the source of the contamination, diet, metabolic activity, and sediment chemistry.

Xia K, MB Luo, C Lusk, K Armbrust, L Skinner, and R Sloan. (2008) "Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in biota representing different trophic levels of the Hudson River, New York: from 1999 to 2005" Environ Sci Technol. 42(12):4331-7.

Fish consumption and PCB-associated health risks in recreational fishermen on the James River, Virginia

This study investigated the PCB-related health risks for recreational fisherman in Virginia. Estimates of fish consumption and fishing behavior were obtained by interviewing fisherman at several boating ramps along the James River. The study found that 18 percent of individuals had no knowledge of fish consumption advisories and 4 percent would consume fish under advisory. Based on these findings, the authors conclude that consuming PCB contaminated catfish is a significant risk to recreational fisherman in Virginia.

Harris, S. and J Jones. (2008) Fish consumption and PCB-associated health risks in recreational fishermen on the James River, Virginia. Environ Research 107(2):254-263.

Fish Consumption Advisories: One Agency's Focus on Families

The New York State Attorney General's Environmental Protection Bureau created outreach materials to inform citizens around the New York City area of fish consumption advisories. The brochures were printed in English, Spanish, Chinese, Creole, and Russian and contained the advisory information along with a picture of the fish and maps of the advisory locations. The target audience for the brochure is ethnic women who select and prepare family meals. The brochures were generally understood and did change the way people chose and prepared meals according to follow-up questionnaires. The outreach materials were developed at minimal cost and with no special funding.

Surgan MH, J Davis, T Congdon, and L Kellerman. (2008) "Fish Consumption Advisories: One Agency's Focus on Families" Society & Natural Resources, 21(3):266 - 270

Outcomes for mothers and their babies: Do n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and seafoods make a difference?

Recently, marine fish oil has been added to prenatal vitamins in order to enhance development of the fetal and infant brain. It is thought that an increased supply of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), a key n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid is necessary for this enhanced development. However there is debate regarding doses and the safety of some sources of fish, especially during pregnancy. The authors of this study found that more randomized controlled trials are needed to assess the efficiency of fish oil supplementation in improving pregnancy outcomes.

Makrides, M. (2008). "Outcomes for mothers and their babies: do n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and seafoods make a difference?" J Am Diet Assoc 108(10): 1622-6.

Relationship between fish intake, n-3 fatty acids, mercury and risk markers of CHD (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002)

This study investigates the relationship between 30 day fish consumption frequency (assessed by Food Frequency Questionnaire), total blood mercury concentrations and risk markers of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) in women aged 16-49 years participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002. It has been hypothesized that ingestion of mercury from certain fish can increase the risk of CHD. This study found that levels of DHA + EPA and other nutrients in fish may be adequate to offset the risks of heart disease related to ingesting mercury from fish.

Smith, K. M., L. M. Barraj, et al. (2008). Public Health Nutr: 1-9.

A 22-yr prospective study of fish intake in relation to prostate cancer incidence and mortality.

In this article, researchers examine the relationship of fish and seafood n-3 fatty acid intakes with prostate cancer incidence and mortality. A prospective cohort study was conducted among 20,167 men participating in the Physician's Health Study who were free of cancer in 1983. This study's findings suggest that fish intake is unrelated to prostate cancer incidence, but may improve prostate cancer survival.

Chavarro, J. E., M. J. Stampfer, et al. (2008). Am J Clin Nutr 88(5): 1297-303.


Meetings and Conferences

2008 Annual Meeting. Society for Risk Analysis (SRA)

December 7–10, 2008, Boston, Massachusetts. For more information please visit:

http://www.sra.org/events_2008_meeting.phpExit EPA Disclaimer

2009 Spring Meeting. Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society (SDAFS)

January 15–18, 2009, New Orleans, Louisiana. For more information, please visit:

http://www.sdafs.org/meetings/2009/default.htm Exit 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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