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Water: News

Newsletter—November 2006

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

  • Tainted fish list expected to expand. UTAH - Tissue samples from 614 fish have been collected in the state and preliminary results are showing high levels of mercury. The higher mercury levels could lead to an increase in fish advisories that recommend limiting consumption of certain types of species. The new advisories are expected to be announced by the end of the year.
    • Source: Salt Lake Tribune - October 4, 2006
  • Commission approves new mercury guidelines. Montgomery, AL - The Alabama Environmental Management Commission approved new guidelines that reduce the allowable mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. The commission hopes that by lowering the emissions levels, the amount of mercury in the state's waters will decrease, leading to lower levels of mercury in fish tissue. In 2005, there were 19 fish consumption advisories in place across the state, suggesting people limit consumption of certain fish species because of elevated mercury levels. The goal is to reduce the number of mercury-related fish advisories in years to come.
    • Source: The Decatur Daily News - October 7, 2006
  • Harbour pollution still high. Sydney, AUSTRALIA - Fishing restrictions are already in place in the Sydney Harbor, due to high dioxin levels, and it does not look like they will be relaxed anytime soon. Recent tests showed that over 60 percent of the fish sampled from the harbor contained dioxin levels too high for consumption. The recent set of results is not any better than the last tests that were conducted in May. Commercial fishing in the Sydney Harbor was banned back in January of this year because of high dioxin levels in the seafood.
    • Source: www.madison.com - September 15, 2006
  • Maury River fish under health advisory. VIRGINIA - The levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in a section of the Maury River are high enough to prompt a fish consumption advisory by the state Department of Health. A 15-mile stretch of the river from Buena Vista to the confluence with the James River is affected by the new advisory. The advisory recommends eating no more than two meals per month of carp caught in this section of the Maury River. For more information about Virginia's fish consumption advisories, go to http://www.vdh.virginia.gov.
    • Source: The Roanoke Times - October 11, 2006
  • Warning widens on fish from James. VIRGINIA - The fish consumption advisory for the James River has been expanded by state health officials. For the section of the James from Richmond to Hampton Roads, it is recommended that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children eat no fish. In that same section, the new advisory recommends that all other people eat no flathead catfish longer than 32 inches. People should also not eat more than two meals per month of flathead catfish shorter than 32 inches, or any blueback herring, or hickory shad. The change to this advisory comes from observing potentially unsafe levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in recent tests.
    • Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch - October 11, 2006
  • Elevated mercury levels seen in Canyon Lake fish. San Antonio, TX - The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a consumption warning for striped bass and longnose gar caught from Canyon Lake. Recent laboratory test results showed elevated levels of mercury in those two species. The recommendation for pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, and those that are breastfeeding is to avoid eating either of the species. Adults and children ages 12 and older should eat no more than two eight-ounce servings a month and children younger than 12 should eat no more than two four-ounce servings per month.
    • Source: Express-News - October 26, 2006
  • Washington state news briefs. Olympia, WA - Some Puget Sound salmon have higher levels of mercury and PCBs and new advice on consuming the fish is now out. The new recommendation from the Health Department suggests eating one meal per week of Chinook salmon and two meals per week of blackmouth Chinook. The meal limits are especially important for young children and pregnant women.
    • Source: KGW.com - October 27, 2006

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Current Events, News and Journal Articles

  • DEQ completes clean water plan for Willamette watershed. Salem, OR - The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has released its plan to help clean up the Willamette River watershed. Three main areas of improvement are being targeted and they are temperature, mercury, and bacteria. The goal of the mercury Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is to reduce mercury enough to eliminate the need for fish advisories. New requirements for wastewater facilities will be implemented starting in 2007 as part of the new clean water plan.
    • Source: www.salem-news.com - October 1, 2006
  • NOAA reports decreased levels of toxins in mollusks. UNITED STATES - NOAA scientists have reviewed data collected over the past ten years and have found significant decreases of organic chemicals in mollusks. The scientists analyzed 17 chemicals from 246 different sites. The most significant decreases were of PCBs, chlorinated hydrocarbons, tributylin, and cadmium. Bans and restrictions on the use of toxic organic chemicals are likely aiding the decreases.
    • Source: NOAA News Online - October 2, 2006
  • Gulf anglers can send their hair to Harvard. LOUISIANA - The Harvard School of Public Health and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) are working together to study if and how the hypoxic or dead zone is contributing to mercury pollution in the Gulf food chain. They are doing this, in part, by analyzing hair samples of anglers who fish the dead zone. The idea is that by studying those that spend the most time in the Gulf of Mexico, they will get a better idea of what is going on in the ecosystem. Volunteers that submit hair to the study will also receive information and their results so they are aware of any health concerns.
    • Source: The Times Picayune - October 15, 2006
  • Fish intake, contaminants, and human health - evaluating the risks and the benefits. This paper summarizes the results of a review of references published through April 2006 that evaluates the adverse effects and health benefits of fish consumption. Specifically, the health effects of methyl mercury, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were evaluated. This paper concluded that the beneficial health effects exceed the potential health risks associated with the general adult population. Modest fish intake for women of childbearing age, with the exception of a few fish species, was also concluded to have beneficial health effects that outweigh the associated risks.
    • Source: Mozaffarian, D., Rimm, E.B. (2006). Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 296(15), 1885-1899.
  • Mercury concentrations in fish species caught at Mid-Atlantic Ridge hydrothermal vent fields. Total mercury and methyl mercury concentrations in 9 species of fish collected from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge were evaluated. Results indicated that concentrations of total mercury correlated with the total length of the fish. Total mercury concentration was generally higher in the muscles in comparison to liver tissues. Methyl mercury comprised greater than 80-percent of the total mercury accumulated in the fish samples. Comparison of the concentrations found in this study indicated that the observed concentrations were higher than those published by previous studies for deep-sea fish.
    • Source: Martins, I., Costa, V., Porteiro, F.M., Colaco, A., Santos, R.S. (2006). Marine Ecology-Progress Series, Volume 320, 253-258.
  • High contents of cadmium, lead, zinc and copper in popular fishery products sold in Turkish supermarkets. This study evaluates the concentration of cadmium (Cd), lead, zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu) in a number of fishery products commonly sold in Turkish supermarkets. The highest concentration of all four trace metals were observed in frozen anchovy. Concentrations for all the tested trace metals have exceeded the legal limits for the associated health authorities and therefore the authors recommended more frequent monitoring of these fishery products.
    • Source: Celik, U., Oehlenschlager, J. (2007). Food Control, Volume 18(3), 258-261.
  • Determination of Cd, Cu, and Zn in fish and mussel by AAS after ultrasound-assisted acid leaching extraction. This paper summarizes the findings of a proposed lab procedure for determining the concentration of Cd, Cu, and Zn in fish and mussel samples. The proposed method utilizes ultrasound-assisted solid-liquid extraction using diluted mixed acid solution. The effects of various parameters such as acid mixture composition, leaching solution volume, and sonication time, on the test results were evaluated. In addition, the authors compared the derived results using the proposed method to that of the microwave-assisted digestion.
    • Source: Manutsewee, N., Aeungmitrepirom, W., Varanusupakul, P., Imyim, A. (2007). Food Chemistry, Volume 101(2), 817-824.
  • Application of an ELISA for PCB 118 the screening of dioxin-like PCBs in retail fish. This paper evaluates the applicability of the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit for use in determining the toxic equivalents (TEQs) of dioxin-like PCBs in retail fish. Results indicated that the test kit results were well correlated with TEQ concentrations for dioxin-like PCBs derived using high-resolution gas chromatography/high-resolution mass spectrometry, indicating the kit is suitable for use to screen TEQs for dioxin-like PCBs in retail fish.
    • Source: Tsutsumi, T., Amakura, Y., Okuyama, A., Tnioka, Y., Sakata, K., Sasaki, K., Maitani, T. (2006). Chemosphere, Volume 65(3), 467-473.
  • Contamination status of persistent organochlorines in human breast milk from Japan: recent levels and temporal trend. The authors evaluated the concentrations of persistent organochlorines (OCs) such as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans, biphenyls, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and its metabolites, hexachlorocyclohexane isomers, hexachlorobenzene, and chlordane compounds in Japanese human breast milk collected from 2001 to 2004. Results indicated that the levels of OCs have not decreased since 1998 and the authors suggested that this could be due to continuous intake of contaminated fish. OC levels from samples collected from primiparae were found to be significantly higher than those from multiparae, indicating OCs may be eliminated via lactation. In addition, age of primiparae was found to be positively correlated with OC concentrations. This suggests that the first infant of a mother with higher age may receive breast milk containing higher concentrations of OCs than the infants to follow.
    • Source: Kunisue, T., Muraoka, M., Ohtake, M., Sudaryanto, A., Minh, N.H., Ueno, D., Higaki, Y., Ochi, M., Tsydenova, O., Kamikawa, S., Tonegi, T., Nakamura, Y., Shimomura, H., Nagayama, J., Tanabe, S. (2006). Chemosphere, Volume 64(9), 1601-1608.
  • Predictors of blood mercury levels in older urban residents. This study evaluates the distribution and possible predictors of blood mercury levels in the adult population in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. In brief, blood mercury samples from 474 random subjects collected from 2001 to 2002 were evaluated and the data were adjusted for race/ethnicity, education, assets, and diabetes prior to analysis. Results indicated that individuals in the highest education category had median mercury concentrations that are 1.57 times higher than those observed for the lowest education category. In addition, nine percent of the tested subjects had blood mercury levels exceeding the EPA recommended levels.
    • Source: Latshaw, M.W., Glass, T., Parsons, P., Hidalgo, J., Schwartz, B. (2006). Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Volume 48(7), 715-722.

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