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Water: News

Newsletter—July 2011

  This large walleye on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake greets visitors to Garrison, Minnesota.

This large walleye on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake greets visitors to Garrison, Minnesota. By Todd Murray (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Recent Advisory News

Big walleye lakes in Minnesota tested for PFOS

Minnesota Department of Health officials recently reported finding little or no perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in fish taken from nine of the state’s 10 largest walleye lakes (i.e., Kabetogama, Rainy, Vermilion, Mille Lacs, Lake of the Woods, Leech, Winnibigoshish, Cass and Upper Red Lake). While no new fish consumption advisories related to PFOS will be issued, these lakes are still listed under various advisories because of mercury contamination in fish. Fish advisory program manager Pat McCann recommends people continue to follow the existing consumption advice for these lakes and to enjoy the benefits that come from eating fish from some of their favorite lakes without concern for PFOS.

Link to original article: http://www.northlandoutdoors.com/event/article/id/197969/publisher_ID/36/

Source: Duluth News Tribune (MN), 5/3/2011.

Cobia mercury warning doesn’t worry anglers

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is advising the public to eat just one meal per month of cobia due to mercury contamination. The DHEC collected samples of cobia from fishing tournaments during the past few years and recently added the species to a list of four other saltwater fish (i.e., shark, swordfish, larger king mackerel, and tilefish) under consumption advisory because of mercury contamination. Restaurant owners say the warning hasn’t changed customers’ eating habits. Similarly, officials at area sport fishing clubs don’t expect the warning to disrupt the local fishing business or the annual cobia tournaments.

Link to original article: http://www.thestate.com/2011/05/18/1823160/cobia-mercury-warning-doesnt-worry.html#ixzz1POiubAFc

Source: The State (SC), 5/18/2011.

OEHHA Issues Updated Fish Advisory for San Francisco Bay

In May 2011, the State of California issued new revised guidelines for eating fish from the San Francisco Bay. The previous advisory, issued in 1994, was very restrictive, but the new advisory allows fish consumers to eat more of some fish species.

The new guidelines recommend women 18-45 years and children 1-17 years not eat any shark, surfperch, striped bass, or white sturgeon from the Bay. However, they can eat up to:

  • Two servings a week of salmon, brown rockfish, jacksmelt, or red rock crab OR
  • One serving a week of halibut or white croaker

The new advisory recommends that adult men and women over 45 should not eat surfperch due to PCB contamination, but can eat more of other species “up to seven servings a week of salmon or five servings of brown rockfish as well as one to two servings a week of other fish from the bay.”

Overall, this new advisory is an improvement over the 1994 advisory that limited fish consumption to one meal a month for women and two meals a month for men. However, the Health Department recommends not eating fish or shellfish from the Lauritzen Channel in Richmond Inner Harbor because of PCBs and dieldrin. The revised consumption advice is based on additional information about fish species, not changes in the amount of contaminants.

Link to original article: http://www.oehha.ca.gov/fish/nor_cal/pdf/SFBaypress052311.pdf  

Source: California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)

Recent Publications

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

Locational differences in mercury and selenium levels in 19 species of saltwater fish from New Jersey

Individuals who fish, and their families that ingest self-caught fish, make decisions about where to fish, what type of fish to eat, and the quantity of fish to eat. While federal and state agencies often issue consumption advisories for some fish with high mercury (Hg) concentrations, advisories seldom provide the actual metal levels to the general public. There are few data for most saltwater fish, and even less information on variations in Hg levels in fish within a state or geographical region. The objective of this study was to provide Hg concentrations from 19 species of fish caught in different locations in New Jersey to (1) test the hypothesis that mean metal levels vary geographically, (2) provide this information to individuals who fish these coastal waters, and (3) provide a range of values for risk assessors who deal with saltwater fish exposure in the Northeastern United States. Selenium (Se) was also examined because of its purported moderating effect on the toxicity of Hg. Hg levels showed significant geographical variation for 10 of 14 species that were caught in more than one region of New Jersey, but there were significant locational differences for Se in only 5 of the fish. Mercury levels were significantly lower in fish collected from northern New Jersey (except for ling, Molva molva), compared to other regions. As might be expected, locational differences in Hg levels were greatest for fish species with the highest Hg concentrations (shark, Isurus oxyrinchus; tuna, Thunnus thynnus and T. albacares; striped bass, Morone saxatilis; bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix). Fishers and their families might reduce their risk from Hg exposure not only by selecting fish generally lower in Hg, but by fishing predominantly in some regions over others, further lowering the potential risk. Health professionals might use these data to advise patients on which fish are safest to consume (in terms of Hg exposure) from particular geographical regions.

Source: Burger, J., C. Jeitner, et al. (2011). "Locational differences in mercury and selenium levels in 19 species of saltwater fish from new jersey." J Toxicol Environ Health A 74(13): 863-874.

Development and evaluation of a dynamic model that projects population biomarkers from methylmercury exposure from local fish consumption

A dynamic model was developed to project mercury concentrations in common biomarkers of exposure in response to changes in mercury concentrations in predatory fish from local waters. The model predicts biomarkers in susceptible populations for intake rates representing the mean, 90(th) , 95(th) , and 99(th) percentiles of populations of interest. The biomarkers the model calculates are blood methylmercury, total hair mercury, and fetal blood methylmercury. Decision-makers can use the model to determine the degree of reduction in fish tissue mercury levels necessary to protect the health of susceptible populations. Biomarker output was calibrated with literature sources. Output was then compared to additional literature sources to evaluate model function. Projected biomarkers were not different from literature sources. The model can be used as a tool to understand the impact of local fish consumption on susceptible populations. Integr. Environ. Assess. Manag. (c) 2011 SETAC.

Source: Chan, C., J. F. Heinbokel, et al. (2011). "Development and evaluation of a dynamic model that projects population biomarkers from methylmercury exposure from local fish consumption." Integr Environ Assess Manag 2011 Apr 27. doi: 10.1002/ieam.214. [Epub ahead of print].

Impact of a medical waste incinerator on mercury levels in lagoon fish from a small tropical island in the Western Pacific

In 2004-2005, several species of marine fish were collected for mercury (Hg) analysis from Saipan Lagoon, Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Relatively high concentrations were found in representatives from the Hafa Adai Beach area located some distance from known sources of Hg contamination. A follow-up investigation aimed at identifying additional land-based sources of Hg in the area was launched in early 2007. The study identified a medical waste incinerator as the primary source of Hg enrichment. The incinerator was operational for about 20 years before it was closed down by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2006, for multiple violations of the Clean Air Act. Stormwater runoff from this facility entered a drainage network that discharged into the ocean at the southern end of Hafa Adai Beach, about 1 km away. At the time of this investigation storm drain sediments at the coast were only marginally enriched with mercury although values some 50x above background were detected in drainage deposits a few meters down-gradient of the incinerator site. Mercury concentrations in fish from the Hafa Adai Beach area were also significantly lower than those determined in similar species 3 yr earlier. The implications of the data are briefly discussed.

Source: Denton, G. R., M. S. Trianni, et al. (2011). "Impact of a medical waste incinerator on mercury levels in lagoon fish from a small tropical island in the Western pacific." J Toxicol Environ Health A 74(13): 823-827.

Selenium from dietary sources and motor functions in the Brazilian Amazon

Selenium (Se) is a well-known anti-oxidant with a critical role in the proper functioning of nervous and muscle functions. Se deficiency has been associated with both cognitive and neuromotor impairment, while sensory and motor deficits have been attributed to excess Se. In the Lower Tapajos Region of the Brazilian Amazon, riverside populations present a wide range of Se levels. These fish-eating communities have among the highest mercury (Hg) exposures reported in the world today, and recently, lead (Pb) exposure has been identified. Some studies suggest that Se intake can be protective for Hg and/or Pb toxicity, however, data from animal and human studies are inconsistent. The objective of the present study was to examine the relations between biomarkers of Se and motor functions, taking into account co-variables and biomarkers of exposure to Hg and Pb. Participants (n=448), aged 15-87y, were recruited from 12 communities along the Tapajos River. Se concentrations were measured in whole blood (B-Se), plasma (P-Se), hair (H-Se) and urine (U-Se) by ICP-MS. Whole blood Hg (B-Hg) and Pb (B-Pb) were also measured by ICP-MS. Interview-administered questionnaires served to collect information on socio-demographics and medical history. All participants underwent a complete visual examination and performed tests of motor functions (Branches Alternate Movement Task, Santa Ana Test, Dynamometer and Grooved Pegboard Test). B-Se varied from 103 to 1500mug/L (median 228mug/L), P-Se from 53.6 to 913mug/L (median 135mug/L), H-Se from 0.4 to 3.8mug/g (median 0.7mug/g) and U-Se from 2.3 to 1375mug/g cr. (median 33.6mug/g cr.). Median B-Hg and B-Pb levels were 42.5mug/L and 113mug/L respectively. In multivariable analysis, Se biomarkers (log-transformed) were positively related to better performance on all motor tests, taking into account socio-demographic co-variables and B-Hg and B-Pb levels. P-Se consistently showed stronger associations to motor performance compared to the other Se biomarkers. Regression estimates for Se biomarkers were considerably stronger when controlling for B-Hg. When stratifying at the median for B-Hg concentrations, P-Se consistently presented associations with the outcomes only at high B-Hg concentrations. This is the first human study to report beneficial effects of high Se status on motor functions. For this population with elevated Hg exposure, high dietary Se intake may be critical for brain and muscle functions. However, they are not necessarily applicable to populations with lower Hg exposure and/or Se status, which is the case for people who do not rely heavily on fish consumption, be they in Brazil, the United States or elsewhere. The associations were mostly observed with P-Se, suggesting that P-Se or plasma selenoproteins may be good biomarkers for these outcomes.

Source: Lemire, M., M. Fillion, et al. (2011). "Selenium from dietary sources and motor functions in the Brazilian Amazon." Neurotoxicology 2011 May 6. [Epub ahead of print].

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fish and crayfish from the Calumet region of southwestern Lake Michigan

We identified and quantified polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in six aquatic taxa from the Calumet region of southwestern Lake Michigan in order to examine their differential exposure to and health risks from PAH. There was a high degree of variation in PAH concentrations across and within sites. Mean concentrations of total PAH were high in alewife (1,064 ng/g) and minnows (345 ng/g) collected from the Indiana Ship Canal, when compared to other taxa and locations. Concentrations of PAH in sunfish were relatively low (10 to 79 ng/g), even where environmental concentrations were elevated. In sunfish, regardless of location, concentrations of CHR, FLA, FLU, PHE and PYR were high whereas DBA, IPE, BAP, BBF, BGP and BKF concentrations were low. PAH concentrations in crayfish exceeded those of other taxa at three of four locations where they co-occurred. PAH profiles were similar in crayfish, sunfish and minnows from locations where sediment concentrations were low. Profiles for crayfish and minnows from a location where sediment concentrations were elevated displayed lower concentrations of ACY, and higher concentrations of BAA, BBF, and BKF, than those from the other three locations. In contrast, the profiles in sunfish from those three locations were similar. The PHE/ANT and FLA/PYR ratios for crayfish, minnows and sunfish suggested that the primary sources at most locations were pyrogenic, although some sites had strong petrogenic influences. Toxic equivalency factors in biota generally reflected the magnitude of sediment contamination. In three of four locations where they co-occurred, TEQs were higher in crayfish than in sunfish and minnows. Sunfish had higher TEQs than minnows at most, though not all, locations; TEQs were notably higher in minnows as compared to sunfish from the Little Calumet River. The selection of aquatic species as sentinels of PAH exposure and risks needs to consider differences in ecologies of taxa as well as the relative magnitude of sediment contamination.

Source: Levengood, J. M. and D. J. Schaeffer (2011). "Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fish and crayfish from the Calumet region of southwestern Lake Michigan." Ecotoxicology 2011 May 19. [Epub ahead of print].

Mercury levels in an urban pregnant population in Durham County, North Carolina

The adverse effects of prenatal mercury exposure, most commonly resulting from maternal fish consumption, have been detected at very low exposure levels. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, however, have been shown to support fetal brain and vision development. Using data from a prospective, cohort study of pregnant women from an inland area in the US South, we sought to understand the fish consumption habits and associated mercury levels across subpopulations. Over 30% of women had at least 1 µg/L of mercury in their blood, and about 2% had blood mercury levels above the level of concern during pregnancy (>/=3.5 µg/L). Mercury levels were higher among Asian/Pacific Islander, older, higher educated, and married women. Fish consumption from any source was reported by 2/3 of the women in our study, with older women more likely to consume fish. Despite eating more fish meals per week, lower income, lower educated women had lower blood mercury levels than higher income, higher educated women. This suggests the different demographic groups consume different types of fish. Encouraging increased fish consumption while minimizing mercury exposure requires careful crafting of a complex health message.

Source: Miranda, M. L., S. Edwards, et al. (2011). "Mercury levels in an urban pregnant population in Durham County, North Carolina." Int J Environ Res Public Health 8(3): 698-712.

The following recent publications are also of interest, but the abstracts are not reprinted here due to copyright restrictions:

Comparison of a toxicokinetic and a questionnaire-based approach to assess methylmercury intake in exposed individuals.
Noisel, N., M. Bouchard, et al. (2011). Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology 21(3): 328-328-335.

Tissue bioaccumulation patterns, xenobiotic biotransformation and steroid hormone levels in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) fed a diet containing perfluoroactane sulfonic or perfluorooctane carboxylic acids.
Mortensen, A. S., R. J. Letcher, et al. (2011). Chemosphere 83(8): 1035-1035-1044.

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Pesticide Use Declines but Toxicity Increases.
Hartwell, S.I.. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2011 May; 30(5):1223-31. doi: 10.1002/etc.491. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

Comparative distribution, sourcing, and chemical behavior of PCDD/Fs and PCBs in an estuary environment.
Howell NL, HS Rifai , L Koenig . Chemosphere. 2011 Apr;83(6):873-81.

Evaluation of the Cardiovascular Effects of Methylmercury Exposures: Current Evidence Supports Development of a Dose-Response Function for Regulatory Benefits Analysis.
Roman HA, Walsh TL, Coull BA, Dewailly É, Guallar E, Hattis D, et al. 2011. Environ Health Perspect 119:607-614. doi:10.1289/ehp.1003012.

Mercury concentrations in water and hybrid striped bass ( Morone saxatilis x M. chrysops ) muscle tissue samples collected from the Ohio river, USA.
Emery EB, JP Spaeth . Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2011 Apr; 60(3):486-95. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

Mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic levels in three pelagic fish species from the Atlantic Ocean: Intra- and inter-specific variability and human health risks for consumption.
Vieira C, S. Morais , Ramos S, Delerue-Matos C, Oliveira MB. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Apr; 49(4):923-32. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

Spatial and seasonal variability of dissolved methylmercury in two stream basins in the eastern United States.
PM Bradley, DA Burns, K Riva- Murray, ME. Brigham, DT. Button, LC. Chasar, M Marvin-DiPasquale, MALowery, and CA Journey. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2011, 45 (6), pp 2048–2055.

Uterine leiomyomata in a cohort of Great Lakes sport fish consumers.
Lambertino A, Turyk M, Anderson H, Freels S, Persky V. Environ Res. 2011 May;111(4):565-72. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

Meetings and Conferences

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
International Society of Exposure Science (ISES) - 21st Annual Meeting
October 23-27, 2011 Baltimore, Maryland
http://ises2011.memberclicks.net Exit EPA Disclaimer
14th World Lake Conference
October 31-November 4, 2011 Austin, Texas
http://www.wlc14.orgExit EPA Disclaimer
The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America 32nd Annual Meeting
November 13-17 2011, Boston, Massachusetts
http://boston.setac.orgExit EPA Disclaimer
Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting
December 4-7, 2011 Charleston, South Carolina
http://www.sra.org/events_2011_meeting.phpExit EPA Disclaimer

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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