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Newsletter—February 2011

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Recent Advisory News

West Virginia issues new fish advisories

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources issued a new sport fish consumption advisory in January. The advisory now allows for increased consumption of walleye on Summersville Lake and smallmouth bass on the South Fork of the Potomac River's South Branch. The advisory is due to lower levels of mercury found in these fish. Consumption of channel catfish from the Shenandoah River is now allowed due to lower PCB levels, but an advisory for smallmouth bass has been added due to increased mercury levels. For more information on all of the changes, visit the West Virginia fish advisories website: http://www.wvdhhr.org/fish

Link to original article: http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-charleston/changing-levels-of-pollution-wv-waters-prompts-new-fish-advisories

Source: Charleston Examiner (WV), 1/13/2011

Consumer Reports tests mercury in canned tuna

Consumer Reports magazine recently tested dozens of cans and pouches of tuna purchased in New York and online and found mercury in every sample. “White” tuna generally contained more mercury than “light” tuna, but some light tuna contained enough that a woman of childbearing age eating less than a can a week would exceed federal recommendations for mercury consumption. The average amount of mercury found by Consumer Reports in white tuna samples was 0.427 parts per million (ppm), and the average in light tuna was 0.071ppm. Based on these findings, the Consumers Union is urging pregnant women to avoid eating tuna altogether and advising small children to limit consumption. The National Fisheries Institute, which represents the seafood industry, said the Consumer Reports recommendations were “reckless” and had “the potential to harm public health,” because fish contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Link to original article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/health/research/14hazards.html

Source: The New York Times (NY), 12/13/2010

Group warns mercury-laden fish sold in California stores; critics label report misleading

A Marin County, California group called GotMercury.org released a report showing swordfish and yellowfin tuna found in local grocery stores contained mercury above the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) threshold of 1 ppm. Some swordfish samples tested had 2.06 ppm of mercury, while yellowfin tuna had 1.09 ppm, according to the report. The National Fisheries Institute, which represents the seafood industry, said the report is misleading and that the FDA 1 ppm threshold contains a 1,000 percent safety factor.

Link to original article: http://www.marinij.com/business/ci_17131016

Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA), 1/18/2011

Study: How fish is cooked may affect its health benefits

Dr. Fadi Nahab of Emory University led a team that studied the role of race and geography in stroke incidence in the United States. The study found that fried fish consumption was 30 percent higher in the southeastern United States, where incidence of stroke is also higher than the rest of the country. Results of the survey also showed that African Americans ate more fish per week than whites, but they were also 3 1/2 times more likely to eat at least two servings of fried fish per week than whites. African Americans also have a higher rate of stroke than whites. The researchers suggest that eating fried fish may lower health benefits of fish consumption.

Link to original article: http://www.boston.com/yourtown/cambridge/articles/2010/12/27/how_fish_is_cooked_may_affect_its_health_benefits

Source: Boston.com (MA), 12/27/2010

Omega-3s in Fish May Protect Seniors' Eyes

A recent Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study found that a diet rich in omega-3s probably protects against advanced age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in whites in the United States. High concentrations of omega-3s have been found in the eye's retina, and evidence is mounting that the nutrient may be essential to eye health.

Link to full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-12-omega-3s-fish-seafood-seniors-eyes.html

Source: Physorg.com, 12/01/2010


Recent Publications

Please note: The following abstracts are reprinted verbatim unless otherwise noted.

A uniform fish consumption advisory protocol for the Ohio River

ORSANCO and the six Ohio River main stem states have been working to align states' fish consumption advisories (FCAs) to enhance the value of advice issued to the public. To achieve this goal, ORSANCO worked closely with a panel consisting of state and USEPA representatives. The result of this effort is the Ohio River Fish Consumption Advisory Protocol (ORFCAP). The ORFCAP represents a single set of variables agreed upon by the panel that allows for a standardized protocol to create advisory thresholds to which states can defer to issue consumption advice for the Ohio River. The ORFCAP identifies ORSANCO as a clearinghouse for data which will be distributed to the panel for decision making. Other components include identifying primary contaminants of concern (PCBs and mercury) and dividing the river into four reporting units. The protocol was developed to issue FCAs for the protection of sensitive populations using five advisory groupings for PCBs and four for mercury. Specific variables used in the calculation of advisory thresholds such as health protection values, cooking reductions, average meal sizes, etc., were selected by the panel. Lastly, the protocol calls for FCA decisions to be based on analysis of the most recent 10 years of data for each species in each reporting unit to determine size class needs and advisory groupings. Upon pending implementation of the protocol by the main stem states, these decisions will be made annually through a series of discussions involving ORSANCO, the panel, and other appropriate state personnel.

Source: Thomas, J. A., L. Alexander, et al. (2010). "A uniform fish consumption advisory protocol for the Ohio River." Environ Monit Assess.

Factors influencing mercury accumulation in three species of forage fish from Caddo Lake, Texas, USA

Most studies that have examined mercury (Hg) contamination of fish have focused on game species feeding near the top of the food web, while studies that examine forage fish that feed near the base of the food web are rare. We conducted a survey of Hg contamination in three species of forage fish, brook silverside (Labidesthes sicculus), threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense) and gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), from Caddo Lake, Texas, USA and found species-specific differences in Hg concentrations. We examined total length, age, trophic position (determined using delta15N), and growth rate of forage fish as factors that could have influenced within- and between-species differences in Hg concentration. Total length and age were the best predictors of within-species differences in Hg concentration. Between-species differences in Hg concentrations were most strongly influenced by trophic position.

Source: Chumchal, M. M., R. W. Drenner, et al. (2010). "Factors influencing mercury accumulation in three species of forage fish from Caddo Lake, Texas, USA." J Environ Sci (China) 22(8): 1158-1163.

Fish consumption and concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the serum of older residents of upper Hudson River communities

A study was conducted to evaluate exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) among 144 men and women 55 to 74 years residing along the Hudson River. The results indicated a median serum PBDE concentration of 23.9 ng/g lipid wt. This value is similar to those of other New York State studies of populations that are younger and proportionately more likely to be male, suggesting that pathways do not differ by age or sex. Individual congeners were highly correlated, but they were not associated with concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Persons with a body mass index (BMI) > 30 had a geometric mean SigmaPBDE concentration of 46.7 versus 25.2 ng/g lipid wt for persons with a BMI

Source: Fitzgerald, E. F., B. A. Fletcher, et al. (2010). "Fish consumption and concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the serum of older residents of upper Hudson River communities." Arch Environ Occup Health 65(4): 183-190.

Influence of Physiochemical and Watershed Characteristics on Mercury Concentration in Walleye

Elevated mercury concentration has been documented in a variety of fish and is a growing concern for human consumption. Here, we explore the influence of physiochemical and watershed attributes on mercury concentration in walleye (Sander vitreus, M.) from natural, glacial lakes in South Dakota. Regression analysis showed that water quality attributes were poor predictors of walleye mercury concentration (R(2) = 0.57, p = 0.13). In contrast, models based on watershed features (e.g., lake level changes, watershed slope, agricultural land, wetlands) and local habitat features (i.e., substrate composition, maximum lake depth) explained 81% (p = 0.001) and 80% (p = 0.002) of the variation in walleye mercury concentration. Using an information theoretic approach we evaluated hypotheses related to water quality, physical habitat and watershed features. The best model explaining variation in walleye mercury concentration included local habitat features (W(i) = 0.991). These results show that physical habitat and watershed features were better predictors of walleye mercury concentration than water chemistry in glacial lakes of the Northern Great Plains.

Source: Hayer, C. A., S. R. Chipps, et al. (2010). "Influence of Physiochemical and Watershed Characteristics on Mercury Concentration in Walleye, Sander vitreus, M." Bull Environ Contam Toxicol.

Determination of perfluorinated compounds in fish fillet homogenates: method validation and application to fillet homogenates from the Mississippi River

We report herein a simple protein precipitation extraction-liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) method, validation, and application for the analysis of perfluorinated carboxylic acids (C7-C12), perfluorinated sulfonic acids (C4, C6, and C8), and perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FOSA) in fish fillet tissue. The method combines a rapid homogenization and protein precipitation tissue extraction procedure using stable-isotope internal standard (IS) calibration. Method validation in bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) fillet tissue evaluated the following: (1) method accuracy and precision in both extracted matrix-matched calibration and solvent (unextracted) calibration, (2) quantitation of mixed branched and linear isomers of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) with linear isomer calibration, (3) quantitation of low level (ppb) perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the presence of high level (ppm) PFOS, and (4) specificity from matrix interferences. Both calibration techniques produced method accuracy of at least 100+/-13% with a precision (%RSD)

Source: Malinsky, M. D., C. B. Jacoby, et al. (2011). "Determination of perfluorinated compounds in fish fillet homogenates: method validation and application to fillet homogenates from the Mississippi River." Anal Chim Acta 683(2): 248-257.

A simple method of supplementation of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: use of fortified yogurt in healthy volunteers

A relative dietary omega-3 fatty acid deficiency exists in Western diets, and this deficiency may be associated with some chronic diseases. The aim of the present study was to supplement yogurt with docosahexaenoic acid and assess whether this fatty acid could be incorporated into plasma lipids. We developed a stable emulsion of docosahexaenoic acid that was incorporated into yogurt. Twelve healthy volunteers agreed to consume 1 serving daily that contained 600 mg of docosahexaenoic acid. After 3 weeks of supplementation, plasma phospholipid docosahexaenoic acid content increased significantly, by 32%, in parallel with a 16% rise in total omega-3 fatty acids. This result was associated with a significant 7% decline in phospholipid arachidonic acid. Fortification of ordinary foods with docosahexaenoic acid is a potentially attractive method of increasing omega-3 fatty acid content of plasma lipids, and might even lower arachidonic acid concentrations.

Source: McCowen, K. C., P. R. Ling, et al. (2010). "A simple method of supplementation of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: use of fortified yogurt in healthy volunteers." Nutr Clin Pract 25(6): 641-645.

A longitudinal analysis of prenatal exposure to methylmercury and fatty acids in the Seychelles

Maternal fish consumption during pregnancy exposes the fetus simultaneously to methylmercury (MeHg) and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA). Data from the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study (SCDNS) showed a negative association of MeHg with child development when children were 30months of age, only when controlling for LCPUFA. Concomitantly, n-3 LCPUFA were found to have a significant positive association only at 9months. These findings suggest that the effects of MeHg and LCPUFA may vary with age over the first few years of life. We address this by including outcomes at two ages and adjusting for the child's age at testing. A longitudinal analysis utilizing linear mixed models was performed to assess the associations of maternal hair total mercury (THg, a biomarker for MeHg) and maternal LCPUFA with children's Bayley Scales of Infant Development Psychomotor Developmental Index (BSID-II PDI) at 9 and 30months of age, and to determine whether these associations change over time. Data from 228 children were included. Maternal hair MeHg had a negative effect on BSID PDI, while maternal n-3 LCPUFA had a positive effect. These effects did not change significantly from 9 to 30months in this analysis. The longitudinal analysis provides increased power for estimating the relationships of prenatal MeHg and LCPUFA exposures during child development. Significant associations of these exposures in opposite directions confirm the importance of LCPUFA in development and the need to adjust for maternal nutrition when studying prenatal MeHg exposure.

Source: Stokes-Riner, A., S. W. Thurston, et al. (2010). "A longitudinal analysis of prenatal exposure to methylmercury and fatty acids in the Seychelles." Neurotoxicol Teratol.

Validation of a food frequency questionnaire to assess intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in subjects with and without major depressive disorder

The role of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in psychiatric illness is a topic of public health importance. This report describes development and biomarker validation of a 21-item, self-report food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) intended for use in psychiatric research to assess intake of alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3 [ALA]), docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3 [DHA]), and eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3 [EPA]). In a cross-sectional study conducted from September 2006 to September 2008, sixty-one ethnically diverse adult participants with (n=34) and without (n=27) major depressive disorder completed this n-3 PUFA FFQ and provided a plasma sample. Plasma levels of n-3 PUFAs EPA and DHA, and n-6 PUFA arachidonic acid (20:4n-6 [AA]) were quantified by gas chromatography. Using Spearman's rho, FFQ-estimated intake correlated with plasma levels of DHA (r=0.50; P<0.0001) and EPA (r=0.38; P=0.002), but not with ALA levels (r=0.22; P=0.086). Participants were classified into quartiles by FFQ-estimated intake and plasma PUFA concentrations. Efficacy of the FFQ to rank individuals into same or adjacent plasma quartiles was 83% for DHA, 78.1% for EPA, and 70.6% for ALA; misclassification into extreme quartiles was 4.9% for DHA, 6.5% for EPA, and 8.2% for ALA. FFQ-estimated EPA intake and plasma EPA were superior to plasma AA levels as predictors of the plasma AA to EPA ratio. This brief FFQ can provide researchers and clinicians with valuable information concerning dietary intake of DHA and EPA.

Source: Sublette, M. E., C. J. Segal-Isaacson, et al. (2011). "Validation of a food frequency questionnaire to assess intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in subjects with and without major depressive disorder." J Am Diet Assoc 111(1): 117-123 e111-112.

The following recent publication is also of interest, but its abstract is not reprinted here due to copyright restrictions:

Zhang H, Feng X, Larssen T, Qiu G, Vogt RD 2010. In Inland China, Rice, Rather than Fish, Is the Major Pathway for Methylmercury Exposure. Environ Health Perspect 118:1183-1188.


Meetings and Conferences

Upcoming
Society of Toxicology 50th Anniversary Meeting
March 6–10, 2011 Washington DC
http://www.toxicology.org/AI/MEET/AM2011Exit EPA Disclaimer
10th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant
July 24–29, 2011 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
http://www.mercury2011.org Exit EPA Disclaimer
American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting
September 4-8, 2011 Seattle, Washington
http://www.fisheries.org/afs2011 Exit EPA Disclaimer
National Forum on Contaminants in Fish
Fall 2011 – Stay tuned for details and location!

For More Information

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


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