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Water: News

Newsletter - June 2005

Note: The following summaries are based on articles from the press and from peer-reviewed publications, and they represent the opinions of the original authors. The views of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes. Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government.

Recent Advisory News

  • Missouri Issues Fish Consumption Advisories Updated Guidelines Include Mercury, Lead, PCBs, and Chlordane The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) issued its annual fish advisories concerning levels of chemical contaminants in fish sampled from Missouri lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. The 2005 fish consumption advisories provides information about the amount of different types of fish that people can safely consume. The advisories contains some new information for 2005; however, the basic recommendations regarding fish consumption have not changed significantly from the 2004 advisories. In Missouri, pesticide residues in fish tissue remain at low levels throughout the state. In portions of the Big and Flat Rivers, lead concentrations remain at previous levels. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlordane, once at high concentrations, have declined in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Recent sampling of shovelnose sturgeon in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, revealed that fish tissue chlordane concentrations have declined. PCBs and chlordane, however remain at levels of human health concern. In the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, sturgeon and sturgeon eggs should not be eaten. Throughout Missouri, elevated mercury concentrations occur in predatory fish species. Because mercury still poses potential health risks to the nervous system of fetuses and young children, DHSS is continuing to advise women who are pregnant, who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children 12 years of age and younger not to eat any largemouth bass over 12 inches from any waterbody in Missouri. In areas where there is no local advisory on other predatory fish species, consumers are advised by EPA not to eat more than one (1) eight-ounce (uncooked weight) meal a week.

    Source: Jefferson City, Mo. - infoZine Thursday, May 26, 2005

Current Events, News and Journal Articles

  • Blood mercury levels and neurobehavioral function. Because of its cardiovascular benefits, fish consumption is widely encouraged among older Americans. This older population however, is at increased risk of cognitive impairment and is potentially sensitive to methylmercury found in fish. The authors studied the associations of blood mercury levels with neurobehavioral test scores in an urban adult population in Baltimore, MD. The authors studied 474 randomly selected participants as part of the Baltimore Memory Study and conducted a cross-sectional analysis to assess effect of mercury blood levels on 12 neurobehavioral test results. This study is a longitudinal study of cognitive decline involving 1140 urban residents from age 50 to 70 years. The authors monitored total mercury blood levels and examined its associations with neurobehavioral test scores. The median mercury blood level was 2.1 ug/L. After adjusting for covariates, increasing blood mercury was associated with poorer performance on Rey complex figure delayed recall, a test of visual memory. However, increasing mercury blood levels resulted in better performance on finger tapping, a manual dexterity test. In general the authors found that the data did not strongly suggest that mercury blood levels are associated with degraded neurobehavioral performance in the study population of older urban adults.

    Source: Weil, M., J. Bressler, P. Parsons, K. Bolla, T. Glass, and B. Schwartz. 2005. Journal of the American Medical Association 293 (15): 1875-1882.

  • Mercury exposure in two coastal communities of the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Hair monitoring and diet of two communities on the Bay of Fundy (Canada) were assessed. The mean total Hg concentration in hair was 0.70 ppm (N=91) at Grand Manan and 0.42ppm (n=52) at St. Andrews/St. Stephen. Mean daily fish and shellfish consumption was 50g/day for Grand Manan and 19g/day for St. Andrews/St. Stephen. Mean daily Hg intake estimated from the food frequency and 24-hour recall surveys was 0.05 ug Hg/kg body weight/day at Grand Manan and 0.03 ug Hg/kg body weight/day at St. Andrews/St. Stephen. The authors found a significant correlation (r=0.47, P=0.002) between Hg intake and hair for Grand Manan. Low Hg intakes and body burden were attributed to low Hg levels in commonly consumed species: haddock, canned tuna, lobster, and pollock (all <0.2 ppm wet weight). The authors concluded that Hg exposure in these Canadian coastal communities is low because fish with higher levels of Hg (shark, tuna, swordfish, pickerel, and bass) were not consumed locally.

    Source: Legrand, M., P. Arp, C. Ritchie, and H.M. Chan. 2005. Environmental Research 98 (1): 14-21.

  • Accumulation of mercury in the tissues of the common octopus, Octopus vulgaris (L.) in two localities on the Portuguese coast. In 2002, mercury levels were analyzed in tissues of 12 octopi, captured in the commercial fishery at two location along the Portuguese coast, Viana do Castelo and Cascais. Mercury was analyzed in six tissues (digestive gland, branchial hearts, gills, mantle, arms, and gonads). Correlations between mercury levels in different tissues were assessed as were correlations between mercury concentration and total length, mantle length, weight, gonad somatic index, digestive gland index, and state of maturation. Mercury concentrations in digestive gland (Viana, 0.58 ppm, and Cascais, 3.43 ppm dry weight were higher than other tissues. Arm muscle contained 56% of the mercury body burden followed by 31% in the digestive gland, 11% in the mantle, 0.8 % in the gills, 0.5% in the gonads, and 0.2% in the branchial heart. All mercury tissue levels were slightly higher in samples from Cascais than in Viana do Castelo. Overall, the authors found mercury levels were within the range safe for human consumption.

    Source: Seixas, S., P. Bustamante, and G. Pierce. 2005. Science of the Total Environment 340 (1-3):113-22.

  • Synergic effect of gold mining and damming on mercury contamination in fish. Several studies have shown that human populations in the Amazon basin have been exposed to high mercury levels in their fish diet since the late 1980s. Gold mining activities, releases mercury during amalgamation processes and erode naturally-occurring mercury bearing soils that are contamination sources. The authors present results of a comparative study of mercury distribution in the water and fish in two adjacent rivers in French Guiana, with and without gold mining activities. Because of difference in suspended particulate matter between the two systems, total mercury levels in unfiltered water samples were higher in the mined river (25.4-34.9 ng/L) as compared to the reference site (2.1-5.4 ng/L). There was no significant difference observed in mercury levels between 13 common fish species at upstream sites. In contrast, mercury levels in fish caught downstream of a reservoir, where the two rivers flow, were almost 8-times higher than in fish caught upstream. Monitoring of mercury speciation allowed the authors to relate these differences in fish to the water distribution of monomethylmercury, the mercury form that biomagnifies in aquatic food chains. Mean dissolved monomethylmercury concentrations were low and similar in both rivers (0.03-0.06 ng/L), while concentrations were 10 times higher (up to 0.56 ng/L) in the water out flowing the reservoir. Dissolved monomethylmercury sampling along a water column profile revealed that methylation of inorganic mercury occurs in the deeper, anoxic areas of the reservoir. The authors concluded that mercury mobilization related to gold mining activities is not solely responsible for high mercury levels in fish and that environmental conditions favoring mercury methylation processes, such as anoxia, are required.

    Source: Boudou, A., R. Maury-Brachet, M. Coquery, G. Durrieu, and D. Cossa. 2005. Environmental Science and Technology 39 (8): 2448-54.

  • Elevated mercury levels found in four of 170 fish The state Division of Water Quality in Utah reported that 4 of 170 fish sampled from from 2000 to 2002 from 31 state streams, reservoirs, and lakes contained mercury concentrations exceeding federal standards. The four fish included two brown trout caught in Mill Creek near Moab, a channel catfish from the Green River in Uintah County, and a largemouth bass from Gunlock Reservoir in Washington County. Although the 4 fish samples are not adequate for environmental officials to draw any conclusions on the effects mercury contamination in Utah, the state will start developing testing protocols that would help health officials decide whether mercury-related fish consumption advisories are need. Currently in Utah, two creeks are under advisory for arsenic. The state has collected another 109 fish during 2003 and 2004 for analysis and these sample results will be available in the fall. Additional sampling will also be conducted at Mill Creek where mercury concentrations exceeded the federal standard of 0.3 ug/ gram of body weight by 27 percent.

    Source: Salt Lake City, UT - The Daily Herald Thursday, May 12, 2005

  • Dioxin and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Scottish farmed salmon (Salmo salar): effects of replacement of dietary marine fish oil with vegetable oils. The authors studied the effects of replacing marine fish oil in fish feed with a 1:1 mixture of linseed and rapeseed oils on levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCB (DL-PCB) in Scottish farmed salmon. Fish were divided into four feeding groups: low vegetable oil (LVO; 17%); high vegetable oil (HVO; 35%); low fish oil (LFO; 17%); and high fish oil (HFO; 35%). Dioxin and DL-PCB levels in the fish feeds ranged from 0.16 to 1.4 and from 0.62 to 3.68 ng TEQ/kg, respectively. The highest concentrations of dioxins and DL-PCBs were detected in the HFO feed, followed by the LFO, LVO, and HVO feeds. These fish feeds were used from first feeding to harvest (115 weeks), and all fish were finished on the HFO feed for 24 weeks following sample collection. Dioxins and DL-PCB in salmon flesh correlated well with those of the feeds provided, although tissue concentrations were always lower than feed concentrations. Dioxins levels in salmon tissue ranged from 0.10-0.53 ng TEQ/kg, while DL-PCB levels ranged from 0.58 to 1.48 ng TEQ/kg. After 24 weeks on the HFO feed, tissue levels of dioxin and DL-PCB were in the ranges 0.20-0.54 and 0.66-1.07 ng TEQ/kg, respectively. The authors concluded that using fish feeds containing vegetable oils instead of marine fish oils for the majority of the salmon production cycle may minimize dioxin and DL-PCB residues in salmon tissue.

    Source: Bell, J. G., F. McGhee, J. R. Dick, and D.R. Tocher. 2005. Aquaculture 243: (1-4): 305-314.

  • Preliminary screening of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and other fluorochemicals in fish, birds, and marine mammals from Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Extensive screening analyses of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and related perfluorinated compounds in biota samples have identified these compounds as global pollutants as indicated by their bioaccumulation into higher trophic levels in the food chain. PFOS compounds have been detected in remote Arctic areas. The authors conducted a preliminary screening of PFOS and related compounds in liver samples of fish, birds, and marine mammals from Greenland and the Faroe Islands. PFOS was identified as the predominant fluorochemical in the biota analyzed, followed by perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA). PFOS was present at levels above LOQ (10 ng/g wet weight) in 13 of 16 samples from Greenland and in all samples from the Faroe Islands. The authors report that results from their Greenland showed a biomagnification of PFOS in marine food chain (shorthorn sculpin < ringed seal < polar bear). The highest level of PFOS was found in polar bear liver from east Greenland (mean: 1285 ppb wet weight). The geographical distribution of PFOS in Greenland was comparable organohalogenated compounds, with the highest concentrations found in east Greenland.

    Source: Bossi, R., F. F. Riget, R. Dietz, C. Sonne, P. Fauser, M. Dam, and K.Vorkamp. 2005. Environmental Pollution 136 (2): 323-329.

  • Cadmium in cephalopod molluscs: implications for public health. Cadmium residues were measured in the flesh and hepatopancreas of 1,392 specimens of several cephalopod mollusks including broadtail squid, spider octopus, curled octopus, horned octopus, elegant cuttlefish, and pink cuttlefish) to evaluate whether tissue levels exceeded the European Commission human health standards (1 ppm). Typically, mean cadmium levels were higher in hepatopancreas than in flesh. The authors also observed large interspecies differences. Pink cuttlefish and spider octopus had the highest levels in both flesh (spider octopus, 0.77 ppm; pink cuttlefish, 0.87 ppm) and hepatopancreas (spider octopus, 9.65 ppm; pink cuttlefish, 18.03 ppm). The lowest levels were found in broadtail squid (flesh, 0.13 ppm; hepatopancreas, 2.48 ppm). Concentrations exceeding 1 ppm were observed in 44 percent and 40 percent of tissue samples of spider octopus and pink cuttlefish, respectively. The authors estimated weekly intakes, 0.09 to 0.66 ug/kg body weigh, was below the provisional World Health Organization tolerable weekly intake.

    Source: Storelli, M.M., G. Barone, and G.O. Marcotrigiano. 2005. Journal of Food Protection 68 (3): 577-80.

  • A note on mercury levels in the hair of Alaskan reindeer. Reindeer are terrestrial herbivores, that generally contain low Hg concentrations, however, monitoring Hg concentrations can help in our understanding of ecotoxicity related to environmental changes. The authors analyzed Alaskan reindeer hair for total mercury (THg) content. Both free-ranging reindeer (Seward Peninsula, Alaska) and reindeer fed a pollock-based fishmeal diet were surveyed. Mean total mercury hair levels were 55.3 ppb for free ranging reindeer (n=5) and mean MeHg levels were 45.5 ppb (79% of the THg level). The mean level for THg in the fishmeal fed reindeer was 19 ppb (n=10). Younger animals (2 years of age or less) showed lower levels (0.8 ppb, n=2) compared to adults (30.8 ppb, n=6).

    Source: Duffy, L.K., R.S. Duffy, G. Finstad, and C. Gerlach. Science of the Total Environment 2005 339 (1-3): 273-6.

  • A review of the studies of the cardiovascular health effects of methylmercury with consideration of their suitability for risk assessment. The 2000 report of the National Research Council's (NCA) Committee on the Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury, considered various adverse health effects associated with methylmercury exposure including cardiovascular effects. The committee concluded at that time that neurodevelopmental toxicity was the most sensitive endpoint, but recognized emerging evidence of potential cardiovascular effects at low exposure levels. The NCA committee recommended that the potential cardiovascular effects be addressed through the uncertainty factors applied to the neurodevelopmental reference dose (RfD). In its derivation of the methylmercury RfD, this approach was adopted by the US EPA. More recent studies have examined the broader categories of heart disease (myocardial infarction (MI) and ischemic heart disease), hypertension, and heart rate variability. In general, evidence linking methylmercury exposure rates from fish consumption to cardiovascular disease suggests an association with heart disease, particularly MI. Apparent antagonistic interaction of methylmercury and n-3 fatty acids in fish suggest a causal mechanism. Because different populations consume different fish species, the risk of cardiovascular effects probably is not a simple function of methylmercury exposure, and assessments also need to evaluate n-3 fatty acid intake. Evidence is weaker for significant adverse effects of methylmercury on blood pressure at current exposure levels. The decrease in heart rate variability associated with fetal methylmercury exposure appears to persist into early adolescence. This may reflect developmental neurophysiological alterations consistent with developmental neuropsychological effects. Currently, the Finnish cohort studies relating methylmercury exposure to acute MI and coronary heart disease appear to give the strongest basis for a quantitative risk assessment of the cardiovascular effects of methylmercury.

    Source: Stern, A.H. 2005. Environmental Research 98 (1):133-42.

  • What to tell your clients about eating fish. Fish consumption may help prevent heart disease in adults and contribute to proper development of children. Some fish species, however, contain varying levels of toxic chemicals. The consensus of many experts is that commercial fish and recreationally-caught fish in general do not pose significant health risks from chemical contaminants. Fish are an important component of a healthy diet and recommending that patients not eat fish has the potential to do more harm than good. However, elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and methylmercury (MeHg) in some fish species, may present serious health concerns particularly for pregnant women, children, and regular fish consumers.

    Source: Klein L. 2005. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 105 (4): 518-519.

  • Mercury levels and relationships in water, sediment, and fish tissue in the Willamette Basin, Oregon. Fish consumption advisories for methylmercury in the Willamette River Basin (OR) created the requirement for a mercury total maximum daily load for the Basin. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality initiated a study in 2002 to measure mercury and MeHg levels in water, sediment, and fish samples in the Basin. Sampling results from the Middle Fork (control site) suggest that naturally occurring surface-water levels of mercury and MeHg should range from 0.5 to 1.0 and 0.04 to 0.06 ng/ L, respectively. Mercury levels in the Coast Fork (Cottage Grove) were higher and are likely caused by historical mining discharges. Mercury levels in sediment were similar, and near background, in the Main Stem, Coast Fork (Row River), and Middle Fork; however, levels were significantly higher in the Coast Fork (Cottage Grove). Fish tissue mercury concentrations were highest in predatory piscivorous species and lowest in invertivorous species, but were highest in the Coast Fork (Cottage Grove). In the Coast Fork and Cottage Grove Reservoir, effluent discharges from historical mercury mining activities appear to have severely impacted water, sediment, and fish tissue concentrations. However, the Main Stem does not appear to have been impacted. Mercury sampling data for the Basin are currently too sparce in distribution to determine whether significant point sources of pollution exist along the Main Stem.

    Source: Hope, B.K. and J.R. Rubin. 2005. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 48 (3): 367-80.

  • Mercury in fish and shark tissues from two coastal lagoons in the Gulf of California, Mexico. No Abstract

    Source: Ruelas-Inzunza J, and F. Paez-Osuna. 2005. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 74 (2): 294-300.

Meetings and Conferences

  • World Recreational Fisheries Conference. June 12-16, 2005, Trondheim, Norway. http://www4.nina.no/WRFC2005/htm/startside.htm  Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • Total Maximum Daily Load 2005. June 26-29, 2005, Philadelphia, PA. http://www.wef.org/conferences/TMDL05.jhtml  Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • National Environmental Health Association. June 26-29, 2005, Providence, RI. http://www.neha.org/AEC/2005/  Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • American Fisheries Society 135th Annual Meeting. The 135th Annual Meeting of the AFS will be held at the Egan Convention Center and Performing Arts Center in Anchorage, Alaska September 11-15, 2005. The meeting's theme will be "Creating A Fisheries Mosaic: Connections Across Jurisdictions, Disciplines, and Cultures." Get more information and register here: http://www.wdafs.org/Anchorage2005/index.htm  Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • EPA Forum on Chemical Contaminants in Fish. The 8th Annual Forum on Chemical Contaminants in Fish will be held at the Marriott Baltimore Inner Harbor at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland September 18-21, 2005. Get more information, submit a poster, and register here: http://epa.gov/ost/fish/forum/2005/  Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). November 13-17, 2005, Baltimore, MD. Get more information here: http://www.setac.org/baltimore/baltimore.html  Exit EPA Disclaimer

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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