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Water: News

Newsletter - May 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

  • Caution Urged in Eating Fish from Adirondacks and Catskills. New York state health officials advise that children (15 years of age and younger) and women of childbearing age avoid eating several species of fish from 25 lakes in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains due to mercury contamination. The species under advisory include pickerel, walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and larger yellow perch. All fish advisories were issued for mercury except for one advisory for Canadice Lake in Ontario County, which was issued for PCB contamination. A New York statewide health advisory also warns the people to eat no more than one meal of fish per week from any freshwaters in the state and some marine waters at the mouth of the Hudson River. The state defines a meal as a half-pound of fish.

    Source: New York Times, April 16, 2005.

Current Events, News and Journal Articles

  • Mercury concentrations in red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, from estuarine and offshore waters of Florida. Mercury concentrations were analyzed in dorsal muscle tissue from 712 red drum collected in Florida waters. Although mercury levels were variable, they were typically lower than regulatory guidelines. Mercury concentrations ranged from 0.020 - 3.6 ppm (wet weight). Higher concentrations were detected in red drum from the Florida Keys-Florida Bay area than from all other estuarine areas. A positive correlation exists between mercury concentrations and fish size (length and weight) and fish age; therefore, mercury levels increased with increased fish size. Typically, large, mature red drum contained mercury concentrations that exceeded the 0.5-ppm Florida Department of Health threshold. Approximately 94% of adult red drum from the Tampa Bay area contained mercury concentrations exceeding the 0.5-ppm threshold level, and 64% contained concentrations exceeding the 1.5-ppm "no consumption" level. Of legal-size red drum from Florida waters, 8% contained total mercury concentrations exceeding the 0.5-ppm threshold, but the majority of these legal-size fish that were greater than or equal to 0.5 ppm were from the Florida Keys-Florida Bay area.

    Source: Adams, D., and G.V. Onorato. Marine Pollution Bulletin 2005 50(3): 291-300.

  • A few more thoughts about fish and fish oil. Beneficial effects of eating fish on cardiovascular disease, particularly cardiovascular disease mortality, are increasingly recognized. Long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n-3), from marine food sources are thought to be key nutrients in fish and responsible for favorable health effects. Although correlations between fish intake and cardiovascular disease have been researched in the general population, a data gap exists in our knowledge about the effects of fish or fish-oil consumption among diabetics.

    Source: He, K., and M.L. Daviglus. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2005 105 (3): 350-351, 428-440.

  • Fishing, fish consumption, and knowledge about advisories in college students and others in central New Jersey. National advisories have been issued for saltwater fish in the last several years. Although information on fishing, fish consumption patterns, and knowledge about fish advisories has been studied in at-risk populations, there have been few studies involving the general population. The author studied the knowledge about advisories, ratings for information about the risks/benefits of eating fish, and the relationship between fishing, fish consumption patterns, and advisory knowledge in 180 college students and others living in central New Jersey. The author tested the null hypothesis that there were no differences in fishing, consumption patterns, and knowledge about advisories as a function of age, gender, ethnicity, and education. The author reported significant differences in fishing, fish consumption and knowledge of fish advisories in some groups. Generally, more people knew about the benefits of eating fish than the risks. Younger people (21-45 years) were less aware of both benefits and risks of eating fish compared to older people. The author feels that risk managers need to target younger people about the risks/benefits of eating fish, since this is the age group that will become pregnant over the next few years.

    Source: Burger, J. Environmental Research 2005 98 (2): 268-75.

  • An examination of the trade-offs in public health resulting from the use of default exposure assumptions in fish consumption advisories. Local, state, and federal health agencies have established procedures to protect public health from environmental contaminants in fish through the issuance of fish consumption advisories. Advisories are based on analyzed levels of contaminants in fish tissue that are combined with values for human body weight and meal size to produce an estimate of an "acceptable" consumption frequency, such as the amount of fish to be eaten per week. Body weight and meal size values are generic default values and do not necessarily relate to a specific population or to any individual in that population. Use of these values can result in under or overprotection in any given population. The authors evaluated "acceptable" consumption limits derived for fish species/groups consumed by three different populations and determined the extent of public health protection that these limits provide to consumers. Three populations were selected that represented populations of greatest concern, the most sensitive, and most exposed. The authors concluded that consumption pattern, contaminant, and body weight data together can be used to make fish advisories more focused and less likely to be under- or over-protective.

    Source: Marien, K., and A.H. Stern. Environmental Research 2005 98 (2): 258-67.

  • Fish consumption: recommendations versus advisories, can they be reconciled? Eating at least two meals of fish per week is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) to achieve cardio-protective effects. However, some fish are contaminated with methylmercury, which may counteract the beneficial effect of the omega-3 fatty acids, so numerous agencies have issued fish advisories for certain species. Such mixed messages may be a source of confusion for the consumer and to health professionals. The author reviews whether it is possible to follow the AHA recommendation for eating fish while avoiding the risks associated with consuming mercury in amounts in exceeding human health thresholds.

    Source: Smith, K.M. and N.R. Sahyoun. Nutrition Review 2005 63 (2): 39-46.

  • Quantitation of polychlorinated biphenyls in fish for human cancer risk assessment: a comparative case study. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can be quantified using several analytical methods, including Aroclor mixtures, individual PCB congeners, or as PCB homologues. The method selected is based on several considerations, such as cost, but the risk assessment methods recommended by the EPA have specific and varying requirements for these analytical endpoints. The toxic equivalency (TEQ) approach is recommended for settings where the original Aroclor mixtures have been heavily degraded; however, this method only addresses the dioxin-like fraction of the PCB. The remaining PCB congeners need to be quantified and assessed separately. In the present analysis, the authors examined various methods for estimating a total nondioxin-like PCB concentration in fish tissue samples using congener and homologue data. The NOAA estimate of total PCBs is based on S18 congeners, an estimate of the total PCB from S38 congeners, and S9 homologue groups. These three methods yielded similar estimates of the total nondioxin-like PCBs for the fish species tested. The totals quantified as Aroclor 1248, 1254, or 1260 were more than five-fold lower than the other methods.

    Source: Connor, K.T., M. Eversen, S.H. Su, and B.L. Finley. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2005 24 (1): 17-24.

  • A survey of metals in tissues of farmed Atlantic and wild Pacific salmon. Fish tissues contaminated with organic and inorganic contaminants have been a long-standing environmental and human health problem. The authors of the present study report concentrations of nine heavy metals in fillets of farm-raised Atlantic salmon and two species of wild-caught salmon (chum and coho). Of the nine metals analyzed, organic arsenic was significantly higher in farmed salmon than in wild salmon. Other metals such as cobalt, copper, and cadmium were significantly higher in wild salmon; however, none of the metals exceeded federal standards.

    Source: Foran, J.A., R.A. Hites, D.O. Carpenter, M.C. Hamilton, A. Mathews-Amos, and S.J. Schwager. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2004 23 (9): 2108-10.

  • Social factors associated with psychological distress among inhabitants in methylmercury-polluted areas in rural Japan. Few studies have been conducted on the mental health status of inhabitants of methylmercury-polluted areas in Japan. The authors examined the correlation between a person's experience with Minamata disease (MD) (compensation issues) and psychological distress. The cohort included 133 (44.2%) of the 301 inhabitants over the age of 40 living in two coastal fishing villages that had been contaminated with methylmercury. Using questionnaires, including the General Health Questionnaire, data on inhabitants' experience with MD, social network factor, health, and mental health were collected. MD status based on MD compensation, level of participation in MD patients' groups, and presence of certified MD patients in the family were significantly associated with psychological distress. The authors believe additional investigations with more precise and detailed measurements are needed to verify the relationship between inhabitants' experience with MD and mental health.

    Source: Ushijima, K., T. Kitano, M. Shono, T. Oka, Y. Miyake, M. Moriyama, and M. Futatsuka. Environmental Science 2004 11 (3):151-62.

  • Human biomonitoring to optimize fish consumption advice: reducing uncertainty when evaluating benefits and risks. National fish advisories that are based only on assessment of risk of exposure to contaminants without assessing consumption benefits result in overly restrictive messages that discourage eating fish, even in cases where advice is unwarranted. Generic fish advisories may result in adverse public health outcomes resulting from decreased fish consumption and less healthy food substitutions. Fish consumption advice can now be targeted to specific at-risk populations by evaluating individual exposures and health risk factors. The authors discuss why the general recommendation for limiting fish consumption is ill advised because of the current epidemic of nutritionally-linked disease, (e.g., obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease).

    Source: Arnold, S.M., T.V. Lynn, L.A. Verbrugge, and J.P. Middaugh. American Journal of Public Health 2005 95 (3): 393-7.

  • Effect of cooking on the loss of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from salmon. Cooking is known to reduce the residues of POPs in fish, although exact mechanisms of loss/degradation are not known. The authors investigated the loss of POPs, including PCBs, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), p,p'-DDT and its related metabolites (sum noted as DDTs), and chlordane congeners, from salmon steaks subjected to baking, boiling, frying, or microwave cooking. Ranges in raw flesh were 25.1-62.9 ppb wet weight (ww) for PCBs, 2.5-7.6 ppb ww for PBDEs, 2.4-5.3 ppb ww for chlordanes, and 17.5-43.8 ppb ww for DDTs. Chemical analysis of raw steaks along the fish body revealed a significant variation of POP concentrations along the length of the fish, with higher levels at the head end than the tail, and with a peak in the central section. Post cooking, concentrations of POPs decreased in salmon steak an average 26% compared to the POP level in raw fish. Removal of skin from the cooked steak resulted in an additional loss of 9%. POP loss was not significantly different among cooking methods tested, but was significantly correlated with losses of lipids during cooking. Removal of lipids appears to be the critical factor for POPs reduction in cooked fish.

    Source: Bayen, S., P. Barlow, H.K. Lee, and J.P. Obbard. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 2005 68 (4): 253-65.

  • Characterization of chemical contamination in shallow-water estuarine habitats of an industrialized river. Part 1: Organic compounds The lower six miles of the tidal Passaic River (study area) has been heavily industrialized for the last two-hundred years. The authors wanted to quantify the extent and magnitude of sediment contamination in the study area; evaluate contamination relative to a reference area; assess the potential for adverse effects to aquatic life; and identify spatial concentration gradients that might identify point sources. Composite surface sediments were collected from 15 mudflats to generate a realistic assessment of exposure to sediment contaminants for fish and wildlife. In the study area, the authors found that current levels of organic contaminants were elevated and were generally higher than levels in the reference area and regional waterways. No spatial trends were apparent for most compounds evaluated, consistent with the presence of multiple chemical sources.

    Source: Iannuzzi, T. J., T.N. Armstrong, J.B. Thelen, D.F. Ludwig, and C.E. Firstenberg. Soil & Sediment Contamination 2005 14 (1): 13-33.

  • Temporal trends of lakewater chemistry in a set of Adirondack lakes, New York. No Abstract.

    Source: Nierzwicki-Bauer, S.A., B. Momen, J.W. Sutherland, G.B. Lawrence, C.W. Boylen, R. Bombard, J.W. Harrison, and D. Winkler. 89th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America - Lessons of Lewis and Clark: Ecological Exploration of Inhabited Landscapes. Portland, OR, USA August 01-06, 2004. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting Abstracts 2004 89: 373.

  • Eco-justice issues in planning with community organizations for revitalization of Onondaga Creek. No Abstract.

    Source: Michalenko, E.M., and M.A. Perrealt. 89th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America - Lessons of Lewis and Clark: Ecological Exploration of Inhabited Landscapes. Portland, OR, USA August 01-06, 2004. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting Abstracts 2004 89: 350.

  • Fish consumption, advisory awareness, and hair mercury levels among women of childbearing age.The State of Maine Bureau of Health and the Wisconsin Division of Public Health cooperated on a 12-state mercury awareness project. Project goals were to evaluate mercury sport fishing advisory awareness among women of childbearing age and evaluate their methylmercury. A randomized phone survey of 3015 women of childbearing age and hair mercury analyses for a subset of 414 women was conducted. Although 92% of the women had eaten fish during the previous 12 months, less than 29% had eaten any sport-caught fish. Of the women that ate fish, less than 29% ate sport-caught fish. Greater than 66% of women who ate sportfish were not aware that their state had issued fish consumption guidelines to protect against methylmercury exposure. Hair mercury levels ranged from 0.005 to 4.62 ppm and were positively correlated with recent fish consumption. Among women who ate sportfish, advisory awareness had no effect on their mercury exposure. Demographic indicators associated with higher hair mercury levels included residence in the Northeast, marital status, college education, $75,000 or more annual household income, and Asian race.

    Source: AKnobeloch, L., H.A. Anderson, P. Imm, D. Peters, and A. Smith. Environmental Research 2005 97 (2): 220-227.

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
  • 2005 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish. The 2005 Fish Forum is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment. It will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, September 18-21, 2005. Get more information and register here: http://epa.gov/waterscience/fish/forum/2005/
  • Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). November 13-17, 2005, Baltimore, MD. Website coming soon.

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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