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Water: News

Newsletter - June 2004

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

  • Michigan cuts fish advisory program

    The The Grand Rapids Press is reporting that the fish advisory program in the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has not been funded by the state legislature. "The legislature removed the $350,000 for that program two years ago. We borrowed from different areas to produce (the advisory) last year, but now there is no place to go," said T.J. Buchholz, the spokesperson for the MDCH. "We aren't planning to update it," said Buchholz. "We believe the fish advisory is very important for helping the public understand the health risks, but do we fund that or Medicaid? When you choose between the advisory or dental service, or going into a nursing home, the fish advisory seems less important." Bob Day, with the Michigan DEQ's Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program, said "We are finding that mercury concentrations are going down in some inland waters, places that we could exempt certain species from the mercury advisory. But at Great Lake sites, it's just the opposite, it seems to be going up." Day is the man who samples the fish for contaminants. His sends his recommendations to MDCH for consideration. But the MDCH scientist no longer works on the project, according to Buchholz. That person now works on on other issues.

    Source: Howard Meyerson. State cuts fish advisory program. The Grand Rapids Press, May 29, 2004

  • Signs Warn Visitors About Contaminated Fish at Lake Crabtree, NC

    The U.S. EPA found high levels of PCBs in catfish and carp in Lake Crabtree, a popular fishing spot, and Brier Creek, North Carolina. The contamination was discovered during an investigation of Ward Transformer Sales & Service Inc., prompting the state to post warnings about eating contaminated fish from the affected waterbodies. In 1978, a contractor hired by Ward Transformer sprayed 30,000 gallons of oil contaminated with PCBs along more than 200 miles of rural roadsides in 14 counties. Robert "Buck" Ward, father of the company's current president, eventually was convicted of federal charges involving illegal dumping of toxic waste and served nine months in a federal prison. EPA officials are studying the pollution to develop a plan for cleaning up the 11-acre Ward site, which was put on the Superfund national priority list in April 2003. Lake Crabtree park rangers have posted signs and handed out flyers in English and Spanish in the area warning the public not to eat catfish or carp, and to limit meals of other fish from the lake to just one a month.

    Source: Signs Warn Visitors About Contaminated Fish at Lake Crabtree. The Associated Press, May 21, 2004.

  • Montana agency to kill 478,000 fish contaminated with PCBs

    Montana wildlife officials plan to destroy nearly a half-million farm-raised trout and salmon that became contaminated with PCBs, apparently from paint used at Montana's largest hatchery. The PCB-laden paint was applied more than 25 years ago to the walls of the fish tanks at the Big Springs Trout Hatchery in Lewiston, where the trout and salmon are raised to help stock lakes along the Missouri River. The fish to be destroyed are contaminated at levels ranging from .029 to 1.69 parts per million, state fisheries chief Chris Hunter said. Health guidelines indicate people can safely eat one fish meal a week at PCB levels to .10 ppm, and one a month at levels between .11 and .47. The hatchery produces about half of the fish for Montana's stocking program. For more information, visit the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks website: http://www.fwp.state.mt.us.

    Source: Montana agency to kill 478,000 fish contaminated with PCBs By SUSAN GALLAGHER, Associated Press, 5/14/04

  • California issues new advisories for mercury

    Mercury from California's Gold Rush days is lingering in three waterways flowing from the coastal mountains northeast of San Francisco, prompting warnings Tuesday from state health officials. The California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued a draft advisory warning against consuming too much fish from Clear Lake, Cache Creek and Bear Creek in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties, respectively. The draft advisory recommends that no one eat any fish or shellfish from Bear Creek, a 39-mile-long tributary of Cache Creek. For Clear Lake and Cache Creek, the draft advisory recommends women of childbearing age and children age 17 and younger eat bass, catfish and certain other fish no more than once a month, and men and women beyond childbearing age no more than once a week. If none of those fish are eaten, women of childbearing age and children 17 years and younger can have one meal a week of bluegill, hitch, carp, trout or crayfish, while women beyond childbearing age and adult men can have up to three meals a week of those fish. An advisory has been in place since 1987 for Clear Lake, but the new proposal includes the entire 81-mile length of Cache Creek from Clear Lake to the Yolo Bypass of the Sacramento River, as well as the North Fork of Cache Creek and all of Bear Creek. Mercury was mined in the Clear Lake area starting in the mid-1800s. State scientists planned to discuss the draft advisory at the Lake County Coordinating Resource Management Committee meeting in Clearlake. The public has until June 16 to comment.

    Source: Mercury, a Gold Rush legacy, haunting coastal creeks. Don Thompson, ASSOCIATED PRESS, May 11, 2004


Current Events, News and Journal Articles

  • Potential exposure to PCBs, DDT, and PBDEs from sport-caught fish consumption in relation to breast cancer risk in Wisconsin

    In Wisconsin, consumption of Great Lakes fish is an important source of exposure to PCBs, DDT, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and other halogenated hydrocarbons, all of which may act as potential risk factors for breast cancer. The authors of this study examined the association between sport-caught fish consumption and breast cancer incidence as part of an ongoing population-based case-control study. The researchers identified 1,481 breast cancer cases 20-69 years of age whowere diagnosed in 1998-2000 from the Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System. Female controls of similar age were randomly selected from population lists (n = 1,301). Information about all sport-caught (Great Lakes and other lakes) fish consumption and breast cancer risk factors was obtained through telephone interviews. After adjustment for known and suspected risk factors, the relative risk of breast cancer for women who had recently consumed sport-caught fish was similar to women who had never eaten sport-caught fish. Frequency of consumption and location of sport-caught fish were not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Recent consumption of Great Lakes fish was not associated with postmenopausal breast cancer, whereas risk associated with premenopausal breast cancer was elevated. In this study the authors found no overall association between recent consumption of sport-caught fish and breast cancer, although they suggest there may be an increased breast cancer risk for subgroups of women who are young and/or premenopausal.

    Source: McElroy JA, Kanarek MS, Trentham-Dietz A, Robert SA, Hampton JM, Newcomb PA, Anderson HA, Remington PL. 2004. Potential exposure to PCBs, DDT, and PBDEs from sport-caught fish consumption in relation to breast cancer risk in Wisconsin. Environ Health Perspect 2004 Feb;112(2):156-62.

  • Fish consumption and other environmental exposures and their associations with serum PCB concentrations among Mohawk women at Akwesasne

    A study was conducted with the objective of assessing how dietary, occupational, and residential exposures to PCBs contribute to body burden among pregnant Mohawk women residing near three hazardous waste sites. From 1992 to 1995, 111 pregnant women were interviewed about fish consumption and other environmental risk factors and donated a 20-mL venous blood sample for serum PCB analysis. To supplement previous fish sampling, samples of residential soil, ambient air, wild duck, and local meats and vegetables were also collected and analyzed for PCBs. The results indicated a significant decline in local fish consumption from an annual mean of 31.3 meals more than 1 year prior to pregnancy to an annualized mean of 11.7 meals during pregnancy. This change was reportedly a result of the advisories issued against consumption of local fish by pregnant and nursing women of childbearing age. The geometric mean concentration of total PCBs in the serum was 1.2 ppb, a level that is similar to that in other studies of women with no unusual exposures to PCBs. However, multiple regression analysis revealed that serum levels of total PCBs and three individual congeners were associated with local fish consumption. The PCB levels in soil, air, and local foodstuffs other than fish generally were not elevated, except for those obtained in close proximity to one of the hazardous waste sites, and no association was found between serum PCB levels and exposure through these media or through occupation.

    Source: Fitzgerald EF, Hwang SA, Langguth K, Cayo M, Yang BZ, Bush B, Worswick P, Lauzon T. 2004. Fish consumption and other environmental exposures and their associations with serum PCB concentrations among Mohawk women at Akwesasne. Environ Res 2004 Feb;94(2):160-70.

  • Wild salmon prices rise as consumers turn away from farmed fish

    Over the past two years, campaigns have promoted the health, taste and environmental benefits of ocean-caught salmon. Scientific studies have found higher levels of PCBs in farmed salmon. And new laws are highlighting the origin of salmon for consumers. The convergence of all those factors has pushed wild salmon prices back up to the high prices seen in the late 1980s. Higher prices have made some middlemen balky, but strong demand has brought them around, said Scott Adams, production manager for Hallmark Fisheries in Charleston, Oregon. "I call a guy up and he'll say, 'I'm not buying fish at that price.' An hour later he calls back and asks if I have any fish left," Adams said. "It's amazing. It goes to show you people want to eat certain things." Fish marketing consultant Howard Johnson of H.M. Johnson & Associates has tracked a slight increase in farmed salmon prices, but noted that wild prices are up much more. He added that the buzz was all wild salmon at this year's International Boston Seafood Show, where Legal Sea Foods, a Boston-based chain of 26 restaurants, announced a new line of wild Alaskan salmon dishes. "What we have now is an informed public that wants our product," said fisherman Daryl Bogardus. "Instead of taking a back seat to farmed fish, we're getting the price we should." Surveys in Oregon have tracked a steep rise in consumer preference for wild fish, said EcoTrust Vice President Eileen Brady. In 2002, when asked what salmon they would choose at the grocery or a restaurant, 29 percent said wild salmon, 26 percent farmed salmon, and 35 percent had no preference, according to the survey done by Riley Research Associates of Portland. This year, 58 percent preferred wild salmon, and 10 percent farmed. "You throw in the PCBs in salmon, with mad cow, with the Asian bird flu, and you have a customer base that's waking up, searching for a healthier quality alternative, and of course wanting to support the local economy," Brady said.

    Source: Wild salmon prices rise as consumers turn away from farmed fish. JEFF BARNARD, Associated Press, 5/5/2004.

  • Mercury levels in marine and estuarine fishes of Florida: 1989-2001

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Florida Marine Research Institute (FWC-FMRI) recently published a technical report regarding total mercury levels in marine and estuarine fishes from Florida waters. FWC-FMRI has examined total mercury levels in muscle tissue from a variety of economically and ecologically important fish species as part of an ongoing study to better understand mercury contamination in marine fishes. The FWC-FMRI Mercury Program is one of the most comprehensive programs in the United States for monitoring mercury levels in marine and estuarine fishes. The authors examined the concentration of total mercury in 6,806 fish, representing 108 marine and estuarine species from 40 families. Species represented all major trophic groups, from primary consumers to apex predators. The majority of individuals examined contained low concentrations of mercury, but concentrations in individual fish varied greatly within and among species. Species with very low mean or median mercury concentrations tended to be planktivores, detritivores, species that feed on invertebrates, or species that feed on invertebrates and small fish prey. Apex predators typically had the highest mercury concentrations. In most species, mercury concentration increased as fish size increased. Sampling in Florida waters is continuing, and future research relating mercury levels to fish age, feeding ecology, and the trophic structure of Florida's marine and estuarine ecosystems will help us better understand concentrations of this element in marine fishes. Copies of the report can be obtained from: FWC-FMRI (Attn: Librarian) 100 8th Ave. SE St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5020 or by sending a request to: mercury@fwc.state.fl.us

    Source: Adams, D. H., R. H. McMichael, Jr., and G. E. Henderson. 2003. Mercury levels in marine and estuarine fishes of Florida: 1989-2001. Fla. Mar. Res. Inst. Tech. Rep. TR-9. 2nd ed. rev. St. Petersburg, FL. 57 pp.

  • Michigan DEQ to sample for Midland dioxin contamination

    Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will collect soil samples and test for the presence of unsafe levels of dioxin in the city of Midland this summer. Previous results show dioxin is likely to be in excess of the state standard of 90 parts per trillion as far as two miles from the Dow Chemical Co. plant. City officials estimate that 8,800 homes and 21,300 people - nearly half of Midland's population - could be affected by DEQ regulations and Dow cleanup requirements. The city wants a health study to determine whether dioxin exposure has affected the community. It also wants the DEQ to note in advance what remediation actions will be required and at what levels. DEQ Deputy Director Jim Sygo says Midland property owners likely will be subject to a "facility" label that will require them to disclose information about contamination to potential buyers. That is the same label applied to residents in the Tittabawassee River floodplain dealing with dioxin contamination. More than 300 plaintiffs are suing Dow over the contamination. The lawsuit seeks damages for lost property value and seeks establishment of a medical monitoring trust fund.

    Source: DEQ isn't backing down on Midland dioxin contamination. Associated Press. May 10, 2004

  • Fish consumption, mercury exposure, and heart diseases

    There is increasing concern regarding methylmercury exposure in populations that consume large amounts of fish. This situation poses a dilemma for those who choose to consume fish for its beneficial effects on heart disease risk. Recent evidence suggests that high mercury content in fish may diminish the cardioprotective effect of fish intake. In this review, the authors explore the current knowledge of mercury toxicity on the heart and evaluate the epidemiologic evidence to date.

    Source: Chan HM, Egeland GM. 2004. Fish consumption, mercury exposure, and heart diseases. Nutr Rev 2004 Feb;62(2):68-72.

  • Combining food frequency and survey data to quantify long-term dietary exposure: a methyl mercury case study

    This article presents a probabilistic method of bridging the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) food frequency and the Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals (CSFII) data to estimate longitudinal (usual) intake, using a case study of seafood mercury exposures for two population subgroups (females 16 to 49 years and children 1 to 5 years). Two hundred forty-nine CSFII food codes were mapped into 28 NHANES fish/shellfish categories. FDA and state/local seafood mercury data were used. A uniform distribution with minimum and maximum blood-diet ratios of 0.66 to 1.07 was assumed. A probabilistic assessment was conducted to estimate distributions of individual 30-day average daily fish/shellfish intakes, methyl mercury exposure, and blood levels. The upper percentile estimates of fish and shellfish intakes based on the 30-day daily averages were lower than those based on two- and three-day daily averages. These results support previous findings that distributions of "usual" intakes based on a small number of consumption days provide overestimates in the upper percentiles. About 10% of the females (16 to 49 years) and children (1 to 5 years) may be exposed to mercury levels above the EPA's RfD. The predicted 75th and 90th percentile blood mercury levels for the females in the 16-to-49-year group were similar to those reported by NHANES. The predicted 90th percentile blood mercury levels for children in the 1-to-5-year subgroup was similar to NHANES and the 75th percentile estimates were slightly above the NHANES.

    Source: Tran NL, Barraj L, Smith K, Javier A, Burke TA. 2004. Combining food frequency and survey data to quantify long-term dietary exposure: a methyl mercury case study. Risk Anal 2004 Feb;24(1):19-30.

  • Exposure to persistent organochlorine compounds through fish consumption and the incidence of osteoporotic fractures

    The objective of this study was to assess the impact of POC-contaminated fish on the self-reported fracture incidence of Swedish fishermen and their wives. A postal questionnaire was sent to 2096 fishermen and 1602 fishermen's wives from the Swedish east (exposed) coast and 4584 fishermen and 4217 fishermen's wives from the west (unexposed) coast. Self-reported fractures, together with specified current fish consumption and information about potential confounders, were registered. The response rates varied between 50% and 59%. The age distributions of the nonrespondents and respondents were almost identical. Hip, vertebral, and wrist fractures were classified as osteoporotic. The fracture incidence rates for specific skeletal locations were based on allocated fractures and person-years under risk from the age of 25 years until the time of fracture or the end of follow-up. The authors found no differences in fracture incidence between the east and west-coast cohorts. East-coast wives with more than one meal of fatty fish from the Baltic Sea per month had, however, an increased fracture incidence as compared with that of the east-coast wives who ate, at most, one such meal per month. No such exposure-response association was found for the fishermen. The authors conclude that the present study only minimally supports an association between POC exposure through contaminated fish and an increased risk of osteoporotic fractures.

    Source: Wallin E, Rylander L, Hagmar L. 2004. Exposure to persistent organochlorine compounds through fish consumption and the incidence of osteoporotic fractures. Scand J Work Environ Health 2004 Feb;30(1):30-5.

  • Mercury in fishes and their diet items from Flathead Lake, Montana

    Mercury levels in lake trout, lake whitefish, and benthic invertebrates were investigated in Flathead Lake, Montana. For both fish species, mercury increased with size and age and showed a negative relationship with growth rate. No gender-based differences in mercury levels were observed for either lake trout or lake whitefish. A positive relationship between mercury concentration and depth was documented for lake trout and the pooled invertebrate sample, suggesting that individual lake trout have some long-term habitat preferences. The authors suggest that these findings underscore the need to consider biological attributes of organisms when conducting contaminant assessments and illustrate the usefulness of contaminants as food web tracers.

    Source: Stafford Craig P(Reprint); Hansen Barry; Stanford Jack A. 2004. Mercury in fishes and their diet items from Flathead Lake, Montana. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 133(2):349-357

  • Relations between land use and organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and semi-volatile organic compounds in streambed sediment and fish on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

    Bed-sediment and/or fish samples were collected from 27 sites around the island of Oahu (representing urban, agricultural, mixed, and forested land use) to determine the occurrence and distribution of hydrophobic organic compounds including organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). Of the 28 organochlorine compounds analyzed in the fish, 14 were detected during this study. Nineteen of the 31 organochlorine compounds and 40 of the 65 SVOCs were detected in the sediment. Urban sites had the highest number of detections and tended to have the highest concentrations of pesticides. Chlordane compounds were the most frequently detected constituents at urban sites, followed by dieldrin, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and DDT compounds. PAHs were the most frequently detected constituents in watersheds with mixed (urban and agricultural) land use. The only pesticides detected at agricultural sites were DDT and its degradation products, DDD and DDE. No pesticides or PCBs were detected at the forested sites, but a few ubiquitous SVOCs were found in sediments at some forested sites. In general, concentrations of the most frequently detected pesticides were higher in fish than in sediment.

    Source: Brasher A M D; Wolff R H. 2004. Relations between land use and organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and semi-volatile organic compounds in streambed sediment and fish on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 46(3):385-398

  • Dietary exposure to a group of naturally produced organohalogens (halogenated dimethyl bipyrroles) via consumption of fish and seafood

    Concentrations of four naturally produced halogenated dimethyl bipyrroles (HDBPs) were quantitated in 10 samples each of marine fish, freshwater fish, canned fish, and shrimp composites collected from 1992 to 2002 for the Canadian Total Diet Study. Canned fish composites composed of epipelagic higher trophic level species contained the highest concentration of HDBPs, which was significantly higher than that found in the other three composites. The estimated daily intake of HDBPs via consumption of fish and seafood was determined to be 53 pg/kg of body mass/day and 0.10 pg of TEQ/kg of body mass/day when transformed to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin equivalents (TEQs). In the canned fish and shrimp composites collected in 1998, HDBPs accounted for approximately 98 and 19%, respectively, of the total quantitated TEQ (which included PCBs, dioxins, and furans). The authors state that the results of this study provide the first estimate of human exposure to naturally produced bioaccumulating organohalogens.

    Source: Tittlemier SA. 2004. Dietary exposure to a group of naturally produced organohalogens (halogenated dimethyl bipyrroles) via consumption of fish and seafood. J Agric Food Chem 2004 Apr 7;52(7):2010-5.

  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentration and composition determined in farmed blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) in a sea loch pre- and post-closure of an aluminium smelter

    Concentrations of PAHs from an actively producing commercial shellfish farm in Loch Leven, Scotland, were found in excess of 4000 ng/g wet weight tissue. These concentrations were found to be considerably greater than had been recorded from mussels sampled elsewhere around the Scottish mainland. The PAH composition of the mussels from Loch Leven was dominated by the 5-ring, parent compounds; benzo[b]fluoranthene was the dominant compound. This data was consistent with the source being a discharge from an aluminium smelter. The individual compounds benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene and dibenz[a,h]anthracene returned values of 304 ng/g 446 ng/g and 39 ng/g respectively; these were well above the 15 ng/g pragmatic guideline limit. Over the two year monitoring period, the concentrations of these compounds in mussels from Loch Etive, a reference location, ranged between 'not detected' and 4 ng/g for benz[a]anthracene). Mussels were transferred from a clean location to Loch Leven which demonstrated that the rate of uptake of PAH was rapid. Following closure of the aluminium smelter, the PAH concentrations in mussels decreased. Differences between the two sites within Loch Leven were noted with the longer-term impact remaining greater for the mussels closer to the original point discharge.

    Source: McIntosh AD, Moffat CF, Packer G, Webster L. 2004. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentration and composition determined in farmed blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) in a sea loch pre- and post-closure of an aluminium smelter. J Environ Monit 2004 Mar;6(3):209-18. Epub 2004 Feb 4.


Meetings and Conferences

  • American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting

    The American Fisheries Society (AFS) will convene its 134th Annual Meeting at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, from August 22nd through August 26th, 2004. The theme celebrates Wisconsin's name (which has been translated as "gathering of waters") and Wisconsin's celebrated ecologist Aldo Leopold. Your hosts invite you to gather with professionals, with colleagues, with old friends, and with new friends on the Isthmus next summer to learn how Leopold's legacy has influenced the conservation of our aquatic resources in the past and to plan how it may influence the future. For more information or to register, visit the website: www.afs2004madison.org/index.shtml. [broken link]

  • Midwestern States Risk Assessment Symposium

    August 25-27, 2004 at the Indianapolis Hyatt Regency Hotel. The 2nd Midwestern States Risk Assessment Symposium will feature some of the leading experts in the United States as speakers. The format will include oral and poster presentations, panel discussions, and meals with prominent speakers. The symposium will also feature Vendor exhibits and provide many opportunities for networking with colleagues from industry, government, academia, and consulting firms. Four states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio) are co-chairing sessions this year. Additional information, online registration, and abstract submission for papers and posters can be found at www.spea.indiana.edu/msras.

  • Fourth SETAC World Congress

    The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) will hold the Fourth SETAC World Congress and the 25th Annual Meeting for North America concurrently in Portland, OR November 14-18, 2004. The theme for the Fourth SETAC World Congress is "SETAC: 25 Years of Interdisciplinary Science Serving Global Society 1979 - 2004" For more information visit the website: www.setac.org/portland.html.

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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