Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Water: News

Newsletter - March 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

  • Oklahoma DEQ issues statewide advisory for mercury levels in fish. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) plans to lower the acceptable level of mercury in fish from one part per million (ppm) to 0.3 ppm so that the state's standard matches federal guidelines. In advance of the change, the department issued an advisory that women who are pregnant and young children should not eat more than one serving of predatory fish per week (including bass, flathead catfish, walleye, gar and crappie) from Oklahoma waterways.

    Source: Oklahoma DEQ issues statewide advisory for mercury levels in fish, Associated Press, Feb 16, 2005.

  • Volunteers sought for healthy fish consumption program. The state of Michigan is looking for volunteers and nonprofit groups to help with a project to educate people about healthy fish consumption in the Saginaw River watershed. The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is providing $76,154 to the state for the project, which will survey anglers on the Saginaw, Shiawassee, and Tittabawassee rivers about their eating habits and compile and print an area fish consumption advisory guide. The guide will be distributed to local health departments, hospitals, and community agencies. The project will target groups in the watershed, including children and pregnant women, who are at high risk for developing adverse health effects from eating fish contaminated by pollution. Plans for a watershed guide were announced last year, after the state stopped printing a statewide guide due to budget constraints. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also is offering grants of up to $2,000 for local nonprofit groups interested in helping educate the public about the project and the guide.

    Source: Volunteers sought for healthy fish consumption program, Kart, J. Bay City Times. Friday, February 18, 2005

  • PCB's found in Morewood Lake, Massachusetts. Fish from a small lake at the Country Club of Pittsfield in Massachusetts have been found to be contaminated with PCBs. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said the fish taken from Morewood Lake have the same level of contamination as those found in the Housatonic River, which is heavily polluted with PCBs from the General Electric plant. The state is now considering an advisory warning people not to eat any fish caught there. A spokeswoman for the state agency said it appears that Housatonic fish have been migrating into Morewood Lake through a culvert that floods when the river is high.

    Source: PCB's found in Morewood Lake, Massachusetts, Capital News 9. 2/6/2005 10:47 PM

  • California restaurant chains to post seafood warnings under settlement. Several major restaurant chains in California are now required to post warning notices to customers about the dangers of mercury in fish. The defendants include such chains as Morton's, Bennigan's, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Yard House, Chili's, Outback Steakhouse, Benihana, Landry's Restaurants, Claim Jumper, Cheesecake Factory, Chili's, and P.F. Chang's. The state alleged that the restaurants chains violated California voter-approved guidelines that require businesses to post warnings when they expose people to substances that cause cancer or reproductive harm. Under the settlement agreement, the defendants will pay $132,287 in civil penalties and another $132,287 for educational programs aimed at consumers about mercury in fish. The warning notices must be posted at eye level near the establishment's front door and be sufficiently lighted for reading.

    Source: California restaurant chains to post seafood warnings under settlement, Associated Press, 2005.


Current Events, News and Journal Articles

  • Antecedents of seafood consumption behavior. The author reviewed recent findings regarding consumer attitudes and other important information of consumers buying behavior and consumption patterns for seafood. Aspects considered include: attitudes and preferences (including taste, negative effect and nutrition, quality, and freshness), social norms and expectations, moral obligations and health involvement, and perceived behavioral control and barriers (e.g., price and cost, convenience and availability, and knowledge).

    Source: Antecedents of seafood consumption behavior: an overview. 2004. Olsen, S. O. Journal of Aquatic Food Product Technology, 13 (3):79-91.

  • Levels of toxic metals in canned seafood. Canned fish production has declined in recent years, but large quantities of these products are still consumed in several European countries. These products may contain toxic metals such as Hg, Cd and Pb. The authors determined the level of these three metals in canned seafood by analyzing several products, including canned tuna, chub mackerel, sardine, eel, lamprey, squid, octopus, blue mussels, and some seafood spreads (>1,800 samples). Mean total Hg concentration was 0.12 ppm wet wt., and the highest levels were found in canned tuna. These values did not exceed proposed EU limits for tuna (1.0 ppm). All samples showed Pb levels lower than the EU limits. In contrast, about 2% of canned tuna and squid samples exceeded the limit proposed for Cd (0.1 and 1.0 mg/kg, respectively). The authors suggest that, considering the way in which canned seafood products are consumed, these products do not represent a risk to human health.

    Source: Levels of toxic metals in canned seafood. 2004. Lourenco, H. M., C. Afonso, M.F. Martins, A.R. Lino, and M.L. Nunes. Journal of Aquatic Food Product Technology, 13(3):117-125.

  • Mercury and fatty acids in canned tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Fish consumption is associated with beneficial pregnancy outcomes; however, fish is also a major source of dietary Hg, which may result in adverse effects on the fetal brain and nervous system. Canned tuna, salmon, and mackerel purchased in retail stores in the United States were analyzed for Hg and fatty acid content. Mean Hg concentrations were 188, 45, and 55 parts per billion (ppb) for tuna, salmon, and mackerel, respectively. All of these mean concentrations were below the FDA Action Level of 1000 ppb. Light tuna packed in water contained lower Hg levels (mean = 54 ppb) than white/albacore tuna packed in water, which contained higher eicosapentaenoic acid/docosahexaenoic acid (EPA/DHA) levels (mean = 711 mg/100 g wet tissue). Mercury concentrations in salmon (mean = 45 ppb) and mackerel (mean = 55 ppb) were lower than in tuna products, but the EPA/DHA levels were higher (salmon, mean = 1623 mg/100 g wet tissue; mackerel, mean = 851 mg/100 g wet tissue). The authors suggested that this information will help women of childbearing age to limit their intake of Hg while maximizing their intake of healthy fatty acids from fish consumption.

    Source: Mercury and fatty acids in canned tuna, salmon, and mackerel. 2004. Shim, S.M., L.E. Dorworth, J.A. Lasrado, and C.R. Santerre. Journal of Food Science, 69(9): C681-C684.

  • Total mercury levels in tunas from offshore waters of the Florida Atlantic coast. The author evaluated mercury levels in three recreational and commercial tuna species in Florida -yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), blackfin tuna (T. atlanticus), and little tunny (Euthynnus alletteratus). Mercury and other contaminants in tunas are of widespread interest and human health concern; however, data on mercury levels in tunas from the southeast Florida waters are limited. Fish-consumption advisories issued by the Florida Department of Health for mercury in fish from Florida waters currently include blackfin tuna and little tunny. The author analyzed and evaluated the total mercury content in dorsal muscle tissue of the three tuna species collected from coastal and offshore Florida's Atlantic coast waters (1999 to 2002). Mean and maximum mercury residues for the three species were: yellowfin mean=0.25 ppm (max=0.65ppm), blackfin mean =1.07 ppm (2.0 ppm), and little tunny mean=0.94 ppm (max=3.4 ppm) and 4.6%, 81% and 75%, respectively contained residues that exceeded the 0.5 ppm Florida limit.

    Source: Total mercury levels in tunas from offshore waters of the Florida Atlantic coast. 2004. Adams, D.H. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 49(7-8):659-63.

  • Mercury transfer from fish carcasses to scavengers in boreal lakes. Scavengers serve an important function in the transfer of energy, matter, and pollutants through food webs. For compounds such as methylmercury (MeHg), that are biomagnified along food chains, the movement of this metal from fish carcasses to aquatic scavengers has never been studied. The authors measured the transfer of MeHg from fish carcasses to leeches in two lakes and under laboratory conditions. Field experiment results indicated that leeches were attracted to fish carcasses and that the leeches' Hg concentrations increased by up to five times during the time that Hg-rich fish were available for consumption. Under controlled conditions, the authors exposed leeches to (202)Hg-labeled fish carcasses that had been marked in situ following a whole lake (202)Hg addition. Leeches rapidly accumulated Hg from carcasses and exhibited the isotopic signature of the carcasses within two weeks. The authors concluded that Necrophagous invertebrates could return Hg from fish carcasses to other trophic levels in contaminated lakes.

    Source: Mercury transfer from fish carcasses to scavengers in boreal lakes: the use of stable isotopes of mercury. 2005. Sarica, J., M. Amyot, L. Hare, P. Blanchfield, R.A. Drew Bodaly, H. Hintelmann, and M. Lucotte. Environmental Pollution, 134(1):13-22.

  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in freshwater mussels and fish from Flanders, Belgium. Concentrations and distribution of PBDEs in zebra mussels and freshwater fish species (e.g., eel, carp, and gibel carp) were investigated for different sites near Flanders, Belgium. Organohalogenated contaminants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDE, and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) were also measured, and their relationship with PBDEs was assessed. Individual PBDE congeners were present at detectable levels in mussel tissue at most sites, with the mean PBDE concentration ranging from 0.15 to 1.8 ppb wet weight (ww). The PCB levels in mussels ranged from 6.2 to 102 ppb ww. HCB and DDE were detected in mussels from most sites, mean values ranged from below the limit of quantification (LOQ) to 0.58 ppb ww and from 0.66 to 6.5 ppb, respectively. Except for one site (Blokkersdijk, Antwerp) where PBDEs were below the LOQ in carp muscle, all fish samples from other sites contained detectable PBDE concentrations. The highest levels (14 ppb ww) being measured in eel liver from Watersportbaan (Ghent). The sampled sites covered a broad concentration range of Organohalogenated pollutants were found at a broad range of concentrations, with the highest values being consistently found in eel liver.

    Source: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in freshwater mussels and fish from Flanders, Belgium. 2005. Covaci, A., L. Bervoets, P. Hoff, S. Voorspoels, J. Voets, K. Van Campenhout, R. Blust, and P. Schepens. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 7(2):132-6.

  • Halogenated organic contaminants in marine fish and mussels from southern Greenland-pilot study on relations to trophic levels and local sources. The authors sampled mussels and marine fish (shorthorn sculpin and Greenland cod) at three locations in Greenland with varying human activity. Fish livers and mussels were analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), and chlorinated pesticides (e.g., chlordane, hexachlorobenzene, and toxaphene). Concentrations of chlorinated contaminants in shorthorn sculpins from the control location, PCB (217-224 pptr lipid weight), DDT (180 pptr lw) and hexachlorobenzene (32-44 pptr lw), were in the same range as previously observed in eastern Greenland, but exceeded concentrations observed in southern and western Greenland. Multivariate analysis revealed that pollutant levels were mainly explained by trophic levels of the species (cod > sculpins > mussels). One pooled sample of shorthorn sculpin from the Qaqortoq harbour had significantly higher PCB and PBDE concentrations with a different congener signature as compared to the control site, while other contaminants were comparable. The authors concluded that this indicates that local pollution sources, possibly accumulated emissions from burning of waste, may influence local contaminant patterns.

    Source: Halogenated organic contaminants in marine fish and mussels from southern Greenland-pilot study on relations to trophic levels and local sources. 2005. Glasius, M., J.H. Christensen, J. Platz, and K. Vorkamp. Journal Environmental Monitoring, 7(2):127-31.

  • Fish consumption and stroke risk in elderly individuals. Associations between stroke risk and fish consumption have been variable, possibly because of the differences in types of fish meals consumed. In addition, these relationships have not been evaluated in the elderly, in whom disease burden may be high and diet less influential. The authors studied 4775 adults ages 65 to 98 and free of known cerebrovascular disease at the start of the study in 1989-1990. Dietary intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. In a subset population, consumption of tuna or other broiled or baked fish, but not fried fish or fish sandwiches (fish burgers), correlated with plasma phospholipid long-chain n-3 fatty acid levels. During 12 years of follow-up study, participants had 626 incident strokes, including 529 ischemic strokes. Using multivariate analyses, the authors determined that tuna/other fish consumption was inversely associated with total stroke (P = .04) and ischemic stroke (P = .02), with 27% lower risk of ischemic stroke with an intake of 1 to 4 meals per week and 30% lower risk with intake of 5 or more meals per week compared with an intake of < one meal per month. In contrast, fried fish/fish sandwich consumption was positively correlated with total stroke (P = .006) and ischemic stroke (P = .003), with a 44% higher risk of ischemic stroke with consumption of more than one meal per week compared with consumption of less than one meal per month. The authors concluded that among the elderly, consumption of tuna or other broiled or baked fish is associated with lower risk of ischemic stroke, while in contrast, intake of fried or broiled fish sandwiches is associated with higher risk. These results suggest that fish consumption may influence stroke risk late in life.

    Source: Fish consumption and stroke risk in elderly individuals: the cardiovascular health study. 2005. Mozaffarian, D., W.T. Longstreth, R.N. Lemaitre, T.A. Manolio, L.H. Kuller, G.L. Burke, and D.S. Siscovick. Archives of Internal Medicine, 165(2):200-206.

  • Seasonal, interannual, and long-term variation in sport fish contamination, San Francisco Bay. The authors' document changes in contamination over time at seasonal, interannual, and decadal time scales for sport fish collected in San Francisco Bay. Seven fish species were sampled and prepared as muscle fillets, either with or without skin, and were analyzed for mercury and selenium, as well as for trace organochlorine contaminants (e.g., PCBs, DDTs, chlordanes, and dieldrin). Fish samples collected in 2000 exceeded human health screening values for mercury, PCBs, DDTs, selenium, and dieldrin, but did not exceed screening values for chlordane. On a seasonal basis, white croaker (Genyonemus lineatus) showed significantly lower PCB and lipid concentrations in spring and a general increase in concentrations in other seasons. Comparison of monitoring data (1994, 1997, and 2000), revealed that concentrations of mercury, PCBs, DDTs, and chlordane varied significantly among years for several fish species. Variation in DDTs correlated to changes in sampled fish size or lipid content among years. Interannual variation in mercury and PCBs was found for striped bass (Morone saxatilis) but absent in shiner surfperch (Cymatogaster aggregata), leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata), and white croaker. The higher interannual variations seen in striped bass contaminant concentrations may result from migratory behavior and large home ranges. Chlordane significantly decreased from 1994 to 2000 in white croaker and striped bass. Based on historical data analyzed from 1986 to 2000, however, only DDT concentrations in white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) significantly declined. Neither PCBs nor selenium showed evidence of a trend in white sturgeon. Between 1970 and 2000, mercury levels in striped bass showed no trend. The absence of recent trends in mercury may result from the existence of widespread and historic sources, with use reductions occurring in the early 20th century. In contrast to mercury, apparent recent declines in fish DDT and chlordane concentrations are likely a result of use curtailment in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Source: Seasonal, interannual, and long-term variation in sport fish contamination, San Francisco Bay. 2005. Greenfield, B.K., J.A. Davis, R. Fairey, C. Roberts, D. Crane, and G. Ichikawa. Science of the Total Environment, 336(1-3):25-43.

  • Mercury speciation in thawed out and refrozen fish samples by gas chromatography coupled to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and atomic fluorescence spectroscopy. The authors applied different sub-sampling procedures for the determination of mercury species (as total mercury Hg, methylmercury MeHg(+), and inorganic mercury Hg(2+)) in frozen fish. Analyses were conducted using two different techniques. After the fish tissue sample was pre-treated by microwave digestion, atomic fluorescence spectroscopy (AFS) was used for the determination of total Hg. Speciation analysis was performed by dissolution of the sample in tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH), derivatisation with sodium tetraethylborate (NaBEt(4)), extraction into isooctane, and measurement with gas chromatography inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (GC-ICPMS) for the identification and quantification of methylmercury (MeHg(+)) and inorganic mercury (Hg(2+)). The concentration range for total Hg measured in shark fillets ranged from 0.9 and 3.6 ppm thawed fillets. Speciation analysis leads to >/=94% Hg present as MeHg(+). Analysis of half-frozen/partly thawed fillets led to significantly different concentrations that were typically a factor of two lower. The authors discuss the effects of homogeneity, storage conditions, and stability of analytical species and sample materials on analytical results.

    Source: Mercury speciation in thawed out and refrozen fish samples by gas chromatography coupled to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and atomic fluorescence spectroscopy. 2005. Krystek, P., and R. Ritsema. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 381(2): 354-9.

  • The health benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. United Kingdom (U.K.) dietary guidelines for cardiovascular disease acknowledge the importance of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) - a component of fish oils - in reducing heart disease risk. The guidelines recommend that the average n-3 PUFA intake should be increased from 0.1 to 0.2 g day (-1). Since the issuance of these guidelines, however, evidence has emerged related to the beneficial effects of n-3 PUFAs in health areas other than heart disease. The majority of studies that reported associations between various medical conditions and intake of fish oils or their derivatives used n-3 doses above the recommended 0.2 g day(-1). In 2004, the Food Standards Agency changed its advice on oil-rich fish creating a discrepancy between the levels of n-3 PUFA implied by the new advice and the 1994 COMA guideline. These authors examine published evidence from observational and intervention studies related to the health effects of n-3 PUFAs, and they discuss whether current U.K. recommendations for long-chain n-3 PUFA needs to be revised.

    Source: The health benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: a review of the evidence. 2004. Ruxton, C.H., S.C. Reed, M.J. Simpson, and K.J. Millington. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 17(5):449-59.


Meetings and Conferences

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



Jump to main content.