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Newsletter—March 2011

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Recent Advisory News

California issues advisory and guidelines for fish caught in Donner Lake

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) recently released a health advisory and safe eating guidelines for fish caught in Donner Lake, near Lake Tahoe. Fish caught in the lake contained detectable levels of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and a few other chemicals. OEHHA recommends that anglers consume no more than one (6-ounce) serving of cooked Donner Lake brown trout or lake trout per week, or up to two such servings per week of kokanee. For rainbow trout, children 1 to 17 years and women 18 to 45 years old should limit their consumption to four servings a week; men and women over the age of 45 may eat Donner Lake rainbow trout up to seven times a week.

Link: The Donner Lake safe eating guidelines, a fact sheet and the 19-page Fish Advisory may be viewed at http://www.oehha.ca.gov/fish/so_cal/donner.html.

Source: OEHHA Press Release, 1/27/2011.

Rules eased on eating fish from Pittsburgh's rivers

Pennsylvania state officials have eased restrictions on eating fish from Pittsburgh's Monongahela and Ohio rivers. Recreational fishers can safely consume carp from the Monongahela and Ohio rivers and channel catfish from the Ohio River once per month. The state issues advisories about fish in the rivers each year, based on two years of sampling and testing tissue from fish.

Link to original article: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_717579.html#ixzz1EecN7dZ2

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA), 1/11/2011.

Illinois issues fish consumption advisories

The Illinois Department of Public Health has released the 2011 consumption advisories for sport fish caught in Illinois waters. IDPH issues advisories each year based on fish samples from approximately 40 bodies of water. The advisories are issued primarily to protect sensitive populations, including women of childbearing age, pregnant women, fetuses, nursing mothers and children younger than 15 years of age. For more information on specific changes to the Illinois advisory listing, visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/press11/1.21.11FishAdv.htm.

Link to original article: http://www.thesouthern.com/sports/outdoors/article_7512ee5a-2a96-11e0-be9b-001cc4c002e0.html

Source: The Southern (IL), 1/28/2011.

New York town sees mercury spike

A study of 172 people who live around the Lafarge cement plant in Ravena, New York found that ten percent of study volunteers had elevated blood levels of mercury (5 parts per billion or higher). "Our study… does not explain the source of this mercury. But there are techniques that could be used to do that in further studies," said Michael Bank, the Harvard School of Public Health researcher who led the study. However, results from the study suggest that local fish consumption is not responsible for the elevated mercury levels. The study was initiated by a grassroots advocacy group, Community Advocates for Safe Emissions, which has been pushing for tougher controls on mercury pollution from the Lafarge plant, the state's secondlargest emitter of airborne mercury.

Link to original article: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Town-sees-mercury-spike-942371.php#ixzz1EeepGrNj

Source: Times Union (NY), 01/07/2011.

Revised Michigan study finds no elevated dioxin in blood from fish

University of Michigan researchers released a final report on dioxin levels in residents of a 50-mile-long area of waterways and floodplains contaminated by air and liquid emissions from a nearby Dow Chemical Co. plant. The report determined that adults who eat fish from waterways in the polluted zone have no more dioxin in their blood than neighbors who do not eat fish from those waters. The initial version of the report noted higher dioxin levels among fish eaters based on dietary surveys, but the findings on fish were revised because of new data on dioxin levels in the fish themselves.

Link to original article: http://www.petoskeynews.com/news/null-study-no-elevated-dioxin-in-blood-from-soil-fish-20110129,0,5950843.story

Source: Petoskey News-Review (MI), 1/29/2011.

New mercury advisory for walleye in South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Health recently released a fish consumption advisory for Newell Lake in Butte County, due to elevated mercury levels in the fish. Walleye larger than 18 inches caught in the lake had mercury levels approaching 1 part per million (ppm). The SDDH recommends that when fish are caught from waters under advisory, adults should eat no more than seven ounces per week and children younger than 7 years old should eat no more than one 4-ounce portion of the specified fish per month. Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breast-feeding should eat no more than one 7-ounce meal per month.

Link to original article: http://www.brookingsregister.com/v2_news_articles.php?heading=0&page=76&story_id=10175

Source: Brookings Register (SD), 1/26/2011.

NC, SC officials warn about fish from Catawba

Health officials in North Carolina and South Carolina are warning people about eating fish caught in the Catawba River. Channel catfish in Mountain Island Lake and largemouth bass in Lake Wylie and in the Catawba in South Carolina were found to have unsafe levels of PCBs. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says it will expand testing with North Carolina and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Link to original article: http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=7884704

Source: The Associated Press, 1/7/2011.

State has not yet posted advisories at Mountain Island Lake, NC fishing access areas

North Carolina issued a consumption advisory for channel catfish in Mountain Island Lake in early January, but signs have not yet been posted at popular fishing access areas on the lake. The N.C. Division of Public Health says it relies on news reports and its website to alert the public, because signs are expensive and are only posted when local communities request them and help with the cost.

Link to original article: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/02/07/2042670/still-no-warning-signs-for-toxic.html#ixzz1DNRcB3Vu

Source: The Charlotte Observer (NC), 2/7/2011.

Recent Publications

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

Mercury Isotopes Link Mercury in San Francisco Bay Forage Fish to Surface Sediments

Identification of sources of biologically accessible Hg is necessary to fully evaluate Hg exposure in aquatic ecosystems. This study assesses the relationship between Hg in forage fish and Hg in surface sediments throughout San Francisco Bay (SF Bay) and evaluates processes influencing the incorporation of Hg into the aquatic food web. We measured the Hg stable isotope compositions of two nearshore fish species and compared them with previously reported analyses of colocated intertidal surface sediments. Fish delta(202)Hg values (mass-dependent fractionation) demonstrated a distinct spatial gradient within SF Bay that ranged from 0.60 per thousand in the south to -0.25 per thousand in the north. Fish delta(202)Hg values were consistently higher than sediment delta(202)Hg values by 0.73 per thousand (+/-0.16 per thousand, 1SD). Fish and sediment delta(202)Hg values in SF Bay proper were well correlated (r(2) = 0.83), suggesting that sediment is a primary source of Hg to the nearshore aquatic food web. Fish Delta(199)Hg values (mass-independent fractionation) ranged from 0.46 per thousand to 1.55 per thousand, did not correlate with sediment values, and yielded a Delta(199)Hg/Delta(201)Hg ratio of 1.26 (+/-0.01, 1SD; r(2) = 0.99). This mass-independent fractionation is consistent with photodegradation of MeHg to varying degrees at each site prior to incorporation into the food web.

Source: Gehrke, G. E., J. D. Blum, et al. (2011). "Mercury Isotopes Link Mercury in San Francisco Bay Forage Fish to Surface Sediments." Environ Sci Technol 2011 Jan 21. [Epub ahead of print].

Methylmercury and brain development: imprecision and underestimation of developmental neurotoxicity in humans

Methylmercury is now recognized as an important developmental neurotoxicant, though this insight developed slowly over many decades. Developmental neurotoxicity was first reported in a Swedish case report in 1952, and from a serious outbreak in Minamata, Japan, a few years later. Whereas the infant suffered congenital poisoning, the mother was barely harmed, thus reflecting a unique vulnerability of the developing nervous system. Nonetheless, exposure limits for this environmental chemical were based solely on adult toxicity until 50 years after the first report on developmental neurotoxicity. Even current evidence is affected by uncertainty, most importantly by imprecision of the exposure assessment in epidemiological studies. Detailed calculations suggest that the relative imprecision may be as much as 50%, or greater, thereby substantially biasing the results toward the null. In addition, as methylmercury exposure usually originates from fish and seafood that also contains essential nutrients, so-called negative confounding may occur. Thus, the beneficial effects of the nutrients may appear to dampen the toxicity, unless proper adjustment is included in the analysis to reveal the true extent of adverse effects. These problems delayed the recognition of low-level methylmercury neurotoxicity. However, such problems are not unique, and many other industrial compounds are thought to cause developmental neurotoxicity, mostly with less epidemiological support than methylmercury. The experience obtained with methylmercury should therefore be taken into account when evaluating the evidence for other substances suspected of being neurotoxic.

Source: Grandjean, P. and K. T. Herz (2011). "Methylmercury and brain development: imprecision and underestimation of developmental neurotoxicity in humans." Mt Sinai J Med 78(1): 107-118.

Awareness and knowledge of methylmercury in fish in the United States

In the 1970s several states in the Great Lakes region became concerned about mercury contamination in lakes and rivers and were the first to issue local fish consumption advisories. In 2001, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children, and women who may become pregnant not to consume shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish and recommended that these women not exceed 12 ounces of other fish per week. In 2004, FDA reissued this advice jointly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and modified it slightly to provide information about consumption of canned tuna and more details about consumption of recreationally caught fish. Though several studies have examined consumers' awareness of the joint FDA and EPA advisory as well as different state advisories, few used representative data. We examined the changes in awareness and knowledge of mercury as a problem in fish using the pooled nationally representative 2001 and 2006 Food Safety Surveys (FSS) with sample sizes of 4482 in 2001 and 2275 in 2006. Our results indicated an increase in consumers' awareness of mercury as a problem in fish (69% in 2001 to 80% in 2006, p<.001). In our regression models, we found that in both years, parents having children less than 5 years of age were more aware of mercury in fish and knowledgeable about the information contained in the national advisories about mercury in fish (p<.01) than other adults. In both 2001 and 2006, women of childbearing age (aged 18-45) were less aware and knowledgeable about this information than other women. However, women of all age groups had larger gains in awareness and knowledge than their male counterparts during this time. Participants' race, education, income, region, fish preparation experiences, having a foodborne illness in the past year, and risk perceptions about the safety of food were significant predictors of their awareness and knowledge.

Source: Lando, A. M. and Y. Zhang (2011). "Awareness and knowledge of methylmercury in fish in the United States." Environ Res 2011 Jan 21. [Epub ahead of print].

Dietary exposure of PBDEs resulting from a subsistence diet in three First Nation communities in the James Bay Region of Canada

Concerns regarding the persistence, bioaccumulation, long-range transport, and adverse health effects of polybrominated dipheyl ethers (PBDEs) have recently come to light. PBDEs may potentially be of concern to indigenous (First Nations) people of Canada who subsist on traditional foods, but there is a paucity of information on this topic. To investigate whether the traditional diet is a major source of PBDEs in sub-Arctic First Nations populations of the Hudson Bay Lowlands (James and Hudson Bay),Ontario, Canada, a variety of tissues from wild game and fish were analyzed for PBDE content (n=147) and dietary exposure assessed and compared to the US EPA reference doses (RfDs). In addition, to examine the effect of isolation/industrialization on PBDE body burdens, the blood plasma from three First Nations (Cree Nation of Ouje-Bougoumou, Quebec; Fort Albany First Nation, Ontario; and Weenusk First Nation [Peawanuck], Ontario, Canada) were collected (n=54) and analyzed using a log-linear contingency model. The mean values of PBDEs in wild meats and fish adjusted for standard consumption values and body weight, did not exceed the US EPA RfD. Log linear modeling of the human PBDE body burden showed that PBDE body burden increases as access to manufactured goods increases. Thus, household dust from material goods containing PBDEs is likely responsible for the human exposure; the traditional First Nations diet appears to be a minor source of PBDEs.

Source: Liberda, E. N., B. C. Wainman, et al. (2011). "Dietary exposure of PBDEs resulting from a subsistence diet in three First Nation communities in the James Bay Region of Canada." Environ Int 2011 Jan 19. [Epub ahead of print].

Elevated Levels of Metals and Organic Pollutants in Fish and Clams in the Cape Fear River Watershed

A study was performed in 2003 to 2004 to assess metal and organic contaminant concentrations at three areas in the lower Cape Fear River system, North Carolina, United States. Sites examined were Livingston Creek along the mainstem of the Cape Fear River near Riegelwood, Six Runs Creek in the Black River Basin, and Rockfish Creek in the Northeast Cape Fear River basin. The results of the investigation showed that levels of metals and organic pollutants in the sediments were lower than limits considered harmful to aquatic life. However, results of fish (adult bowfin) tissue analyses showed that concentrations of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), selenium (Se), and now-banned polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and the pesticide dieldrin were higher than levels considered safe for human consumption by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the North Carolina Health Director's Office. Fish tissue concentrations of Hg, Se, and PCBs were also higher than concentrations determined by researchers to be detrimental either to the health of the fish themselves or their avian and mammalian predators. Due to the rural nature of two of the sites, increased concentrations of As, Cd, Se, and PCBs in fish tissue were unexpected. The likely reason the levels are increased in fish and some clams but not in sediments is that these pollutants are biomagnified in the food chain. These pollutants will also biomagnify in humans. In these rural areas there is subsistence fishing by low-income families; thus, increased fish tissue metals and toxicant concentrations may present a direct threat to human health.

Source: Mallin, M. A., M. R. McIver, et al. (2011). "Elevated Levels of Metals and Organic Pollutants in Fish and Clams in the Cape Fear River Watershed." Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 2011 Jan 11. [Epub ahead of print].

Efficacy of dietary behavior modification for preserving cardiovascular health and longevity

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and its predisposing risk factors are major lifestyle and behavioral determinants of longevity. Dietary lifestyle choices such as a heart healthy diet, regular exercise, a lean weight, moderate alcohol consumption, and smoking cessation have been shown to substantially reduce CVD and increase longevity. Recent research has shown that men and women who adhere to this lifestyle can substantially reduce their risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). The preventive benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle exceed those reported for using medication and procedures. Among the modifiable preventive measures, diet is of paramount importance, and recent data suggest some misconceptions and uncertainties that require reconsideration. These include commonly accepted recommendations about polyunsaturated fat intake, processed meat consumption, fish choices and preparation, transfatty acids, low carbohydrate diets, egg consumption, coffee, added sugar, soft drink beverages, glycemic load, chocolate, orange juice, nut consumption, vitamin D supplements, food portion size, and alcohol.

Source: Pryde, M. M. and W. B. Kannel (2010). "Efficacy of dietary behavior modification for preserving cardiovascular health and longevity." Cardiol Res Pract 2011: 820457.

Long-Term Benthic Macroinvertebrate Community Monitoring to Assess Pollution Abatement Effectiveness

The benthic macroinvertebrate community of East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC) in East Tennessee was monitored for 18 years to evaluate the effectiveness of a water pollution control program implemented at a major United States (U.S.) Department of Energy facility. Several actions were implemented to reduce and control releases of pollutants into the headwaters of the stream. Four of the most significant actions were implemented during different time periods, which allowed assessment of each action. Macroinvertebrate samples were collected annually in April from three locations in EFPC (EFK24, EFK23, and EFK14) and two nearby reference streams from 1986 through 2003. Significant improvements occurred in the macroinvertebrate community at the headwater sites (EFK24 and EFK23) after implementation of each action, while changes detected 9 km further downstream (EFK14) could not be clearly attributed to any of the actions. Because the stream was impacted at its origin, invertebrate recolonization was primarily limited to aerial immigration, thus, recovery has been slow. As recovery progressed, abundances of small pollution-tolerant taxa (e.g., Orthocladiinae chironomids) decreased and longer lived taxa colonized (e.g., hydropsychid caddisflies, riffle beetles, Baetis). While assessments lasting three to four years may be long enough to detect a response to new pollution controls at highly impacted locations, more time may be needed to understand the full effects. Studies on the effectiveness of pollution controls can be improved if impacted and reference sites are selected to maximize spatial and temporal trending, and if a multidisciplinary approach is used to broadly assess environmental responses (e.g., water quality trends, invertebrate and fish community assessments, toxicity testing, etc.).

Source: Smith, J. G., C. C. Brandt, et al. (2011). "Long-Term Benthic Macroinvertebrate Community Monitoring to Assess Pollution Abatement Effectiveness." Environ Manage 2011 Jan 28. [Epub ahead of print].

Fish oil, selenium and mercury in relation to incidence of hypertension: a 20-year follow-up study

Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LComega3PUFAs), selenium (Se) and mercury (Hg) are three important components in fish. The cardioprotective effect of LComega3PUFA intake has been recognized; however, the hypothesis that this benefit may be greatest with high Se and low Hg levels has not been investigated. A cohort of 4508 American adults aged 18-30, without hypertension at baseline in 1985, were enrolled. Six follow-ups were conducted at examinations in 1987, 1990, 1992, 1995, 2000 and 2005. Diet was assessed by a validated interviewer-administered quantitative food frequency questionnaire at exams in 1985, 1992 and 2005. Incident hypertension was defined as first occurrence at any follow-up examination of systolic blood pressure (BP) >= 140 mmHg, diastolic BP >= 90 mmHg or taking antihypertensive medication. Toenail clippings were collected in 1987, and Se and Hg levels were quantified by instrumental neutron-activation analysis. Participants in the highest LComega3PUFA intake quartile had a significantly lower incidence of hypertension (hazard ratio: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.53-0.79; P(trend) < 0.01) compared to those in the lowest quartile after adjustment for potential confounders. Docosahexaenoic acid showed a greater inverse association than eicosapentaenoic acid. The inverse association of LComega3PUFA intake with hypertension appeared more pronounced at higher Se and lower Hg levels, although interaction tests were statistically nonsignificant. Our findings indicated that LComega3PUFA intake was inversely associated with incidence of hypertension. The prior hypothesis that the potential antihypertensive effect of LComega3PUFA intake varies depending on joint levels of Se and Hg received modest support and cannot be ruled out.

Source : Xun, P., N. Hou, et al. (2010). "Fish oil, selenium and mercury in relation to incidence of hypertension: a 20-year follow-up study." J Intern Med 2010 Dec 10. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02338.x. [Epub ahead of print].

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

Contaminant concentrations in juvenile fall Chinook salmon from Columbia River hatcheries.
Lyndal L. Johnson, Maryjean L. Willis, O. Paul Olson, Ronald W. Pearce, Catherine A. Sloan, and Gina M. Ylitalo. 2010. North American Journal of Aquaculture 72: 73-92.

Determination of perfluorinated compounds in fish fillet homogenates: method validation and application to fillet homogenates from the Mississippi River.
Malinsky MD, Jacoby CB, Reagen WK. Anal Chim Acta. 2011 Jan 10; 683(2):248-57. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Diamondback terrapins as indicator species of persistent organic pollutants: using Barnegat Bay, New Jersey as a case study.
Emily R. Basile, Harold W. Avery, Walter F. Bien and Jennifer M. Keller. Chemosphere Volume 82, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 137-144.

Flood Hydrology and Methylmercury Availability in Coastal Plain Rivers.
Paul M. Bradley, Celeste A. Journey, Francis H. Chapelle, Mark A. Lowery, and Paul A. Conrads. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44 (24), pp 9285–9290.

Habitat-specific bioaccumulation of methylmercury in invertebrates of small mid-latitude lakes in North America.
John Chételat, Marc Amyot and Edenise Garcia. Environmental Pollution Volume 159, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 10-17.

Polycyclic Musks in Water, Sediment, and Fishes from the Upper Hudson River, New York, USA.
Jessica L. Reiner and Kurunthachalam Kannan. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution Volume 214, Numbers 1-4, 335-342.

State calculations of cultural survival in environmental risk assessment: consequences for Alaska Natives.
Joslyn Cassady. Medical Anthropology Quarterly Volume 24, Issue 4, pages 451–471, December 2010.

Use of preserved museum fish to evaluate historical and current mercury contamination in fish from two rivers in Oklahoma, USA.
J. Jaron Hill, Matthew M. Chumchal, Ray W. Drenner, John E. Pinder and S. Matthew Drenner Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Volume 161, Numbers 1-4, 509-516.

Meetings and Conferences

Society of Toxicology 50th Anniversary Meeting
March 6–10, 2011 Washington DC
http://www.toxicology.org/AI/MEET/AM2011Exit EPA Disclaimer
2011 Environmental Information Exchange Network National Meeting
April 26-28, 2011 Denver, Colorado
http://exchangenetwork.net/2011Meeting Exit EPA Disclaimer
12th Workshop on Brominated and other Flame Retardants (BFR 2011)
June 6-7, 2011 Boston, Massachusetts
http://www.bfr2011.org Exit 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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