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Water: News

Newsletter - October 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

  • Virginia Department of Health Issued fish consumption advisories for several Virginia waters The Virginia Department of Health issued fish consumption advisories for fish caught in several Virginia rivers, lakes and streams. Health officials issued warnings after the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality found levels of mercury in certain fish exceeded the amount considered safe for human consumption. The fish advisories cover the following areas:
    • Herring Creek from the Va. 628 bridge to the confluence of Mattaponi River in King William County; no more than two meals/month of bluegill sunfish and no more than one meal/month of yellow bullhead.
    • Mattaponi River from the Va. 628 bridge near Gaging Station downstream to Melrose Landing at Va. 602 along the border of King William and King and Queen counties; no more than two meals/month of largemouth bass.
    • Pamunkey River from Nelson Bridge Road downstream to the confluence with Jacks Creek near Liberty Hall in Hanover and King William counties; no more than two meals/month of blue catfish.
    • Lake Gordonsville in Louisa County; no more than two meals/month of largemouth bass.
    • Lake Trashmore in Virginia Beach; no more than two meals/month of largemouth bass.
    • Lake Whitehurst in Norfolk; no consumption of carp.
  • Source: Information is available from the State at http://www.vdh.state.va.us/HHControl/fishing_advisories.htm Exit EPA Disclaimer


Journal Articles

  • Survey of total mercury in some edible fish and shellfish species collected in Canada in 2002 The authors measured total mercury levels in edible portions of 244 selected fish and shellfish purchased in retail stores in Canada. Mean mercury levels ranged from a low of 0.011 ppm for oysters to a high of 1.82 ppm for swordfish. Predatory fish contained the highest mercury levels: swordfish (mean 1.82 ppm, range 0.40-3.85 ppm), marlin (1.43 ppm, 0.34-3.19 ppm), shark (1.26 ppm, 0.087-2.73 ppm), and canned, fresh and frozen tuna (0.35 ppm , 0.020-2.12 ppm). Mean levels of mercury in the fresh and frozen tuna were 0.93 ppm (range 0.077-2.12 ppm) and were considerably higher than in the canned tuna (0.15 ppm, 0.02-0.59 ppm). Mean mercury levels in swordfish and fresh and frozen tuna were up to three times higher than reported for the US. Dietary intake estimations found that fresh and frozen tuna, marlin, swordfish or shark are consumed once a month or less in Canada, the dietary intakes of total mercury by women of child-bearing age, averaged over 1 month, would fall below the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives provisional tolerable weekly intake for total mercury. The current Canadian advisory to children and women of child-bearing age is to limit their consumption of fresh and frozen tuna, swordfish and shark to no more than one meal per month.
  • Dabeka, R., A.D. McKenzie, D.S. Forsyth, and H.B. Conacher. 2004. Food Addit Contam 21 (5): 434-40.

  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and their methoxylated derivatives in pike from Swedish waters with emphasis on temporal trends, 1967-2000 The authors present temporal trends of five tetra- to hexabromodiphenyl ethers (BDE47, BDE99, BDE100, BDE153 and BDE154) and two methoxy-tetraBDEs (6-methoxy-2, 2', 4, 4'- tetraBDE [6-MeO-BDE47] and 2'-methoxy-2, 3', 4, 5'- tetraBDE [2'-MeO-BDE68]) in pike from Lake Bolmen from 1967-2000. All BDE congeners show increasing trends up to the mid-1980s (? 5PBDE from 60 to1600 ppb wet weight in 1989), a 25-fold increase), and then decrease or leveling off. The decreasing trends of PBDEs after the 1980s were considerably slower in the current study than in a study of an environmental matrix from the Baltic Proper over the same time period. This difference suggests local sources near Lake Bolmen. The MeO-BDEs show initially decreasing concentrations, which for 6-MeO- BDE47 continued until the early 1990s. 6-MeO-BDE47 levels in herring from five locations along the Swedish coast increased from south to north in the Baltic Sea. No correlation between the BDE congener concentrations and the MeO-BDEs was observed, indicating sources other than PBDEs for these compounds.

Source: Kierkegaard, A., A. Bignert, U. Sellstroem, M. Olsson, L. Asplund, B. Jansson, and C.A. De Wit. 2004. Environmental Pollution 130 (2): 187-198.

  • Review of selenium toxicity in the aquatic food chain Selenium has become a primary contaminant of concern because of its bioaccumulative nature in food webs. Initial concerns about selenium centered around fish kills at Belews Lake, NC; Martin Lake, TX; and Kesterson Reservoir, CA; and bird deformities at Kesterson Reservoir. Under the National Irrigation Water Quality Program at Salton Sea, CA; Kendrick, WY; Stewart Lake, UT; and Grand Valley and Uncompahgre Valley, CO additional concerns were identified. Recent studies also have raised concerns about selenium impacts on aquatic resources in southeastern Idaho and British Columbia. Growing discomfort among scientists with a waterborne criterion has led the EPA to consider a tissue-based selenium criterion. Some aquatic ecosystems have been slow to recover from selenium contamination. Recently, non-governmental researchers have proposed relatively high selenium thresholds in diet and tissue relative to criteria proposed by governmental researchers. This difference in opinions is due in part to the selection of datasets and in selecting scientific literature. Although there is extensive selenium literature for some species, additional research is needed on neglected organisms. The author discusses the interaction of selenium with other elements, inconsistent effects of selenium on survival and growth of fish, and differences in depuration rates and sensitivity among species.

Source: Hamilton, S. J. 2004. Science of the Total Environment 326 :1-31 .

  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers: human tissue levels and toxicology PBDEs are being released to the environment in wastes from production facilities via degradation, leaching, and volatilization from products that contain PBDEs. PBDE congeners (BDE-47, -99, and -153) are ubiquitous in the environment and are regarded as the most dominant congeners present in wildlife and humans. Tetra- to hexa-BDE are the congeners to which humans are most likely exposed through food consumption. Information on PBDE uptake, metabolism, elimination, and enzyme induction is restricted primarily to rodents (rats and mice). Feeding studies have shown that excretion of higher brominated BDEs is greater than lower brominated BDEs. Penta-BDE is more toxic than octa- and deca-BDE following oral administration. In rodents, repeated exposure to PBDEs results in thyroid hormone disruption, developmental neurotoxicity, changes of fetal development, and hepatotoxic effects. Observed chronic NOELs depend upon the technical mixture (i.e., deca-, octa-, or penta- and their congener composition), animal species, and study protocol. Values range from 0.6 to 100 ppm in rats and from 1 to 100 ppm in mice. PBDEs are not mutagenic or genotoxic. Immunotoxicity in mice is observed following exposure to BDE-47 at 18 mg/kg/d, where splenocyte number decreased. Mice exposed neonatally to a single oral dose of BDE-47 (10.5 ppm) or BDE-99 (12 ppm) during the period of rapid brain growth and development, showed permanent impairment of spontaneous motor behavior in adulthood. In mice, BDE-99 induced adverse effects on learning and memory functions. The estimated daily intake based on food consumption for PBDEs ranges from 44 to 51 ng/d, with fish contributing almost one-half. BDE-99 body burden from a human milk survey can be estimated at 0.64 ppb, well below the experimental body burden of 0.4 ppm BDE-99 associated with behavioral alterations in neonatal mice. No toxicokinetics data are available for humans.

Source: Gill, U., I. Chu, J. J. Ryan, and M. Feeley. 2004. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 183: 55-97.

  • Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids Evidence suggests that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids play an integral role in cell membrane function and development of the brain and eyes. Optimizing intake appears to confer many benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and possibly a reduced likelihood of behavioral problems, depression, and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. There is disagreement as to what level of intake is optimal, however, British diets are low in omega-3 fatty acids. Good sources include oily fish and novel sources include fortified eggs and oils derived from microalgae.

Source: Ruxton, C., 2004. Nurs Stand 18 (48): 38-42.

  • Hair mercury levels versus freshwater fish consumption in household members of Swedish angling societies Hair mercury levels were analyzed in 143 individuals from household members in angling societies in an area of Sweden with many lakes that have freshwater fish contaminated with high mercury levels. The study population therefore had a potentially for high intake of mercury via fish consumption. Mean mercury concentration of pike and perch was 0.7 ppm. About 30% of the subjects consumed freshwater fish at least once a week. The authors reported a clear increase in hair Hg with reported freshwater fish consumption. The median hair mercury level was 0.9 ppm for the whole group, and for those who reported consumption of freshwater fish at least once a week it was 1.8 ppm. The highest hair mercury level (18.5 ppm), was detected in a man who consumed pike and perch several times per week. Men had higher hair mercury overall than women, when stratified for fish consumption. This was verified in 32 couples, in which the man and woman consumed the same fish and reported the same consumption rate. The median hair mercury level in these 32 couples was 1.3 ppm for men and 0.8 ppm for women. About half of the subjects had hair mercury exceeding 1 ppm, corresponding to the reference dose (RfD) of 0.1 microgram of mercury/kilogram body weight set by the USEPA. There were only 2 women (of 12) of fertile age with hair mercury above 1 ppm. In Sweden, pregnant women are advised not to eat any perch or pike at all during pregnancy.
  • Source: Johnsson, C., G. Sallsten, A. Schutz, A. Sjors, and L. Barregard. 2004. Environmental Research 96 (3): 257-63.

  • The health benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: a review of the evidence UK 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. At the time of publication, it was recommended that the average n-3 PUFA intake should be increased from 0.1 to 0.2 g/day. However, since that time, a plethora of evidence relating to the beneficial effects of n-3 PUFAs, in areas other than heart disease has emerged. The majority of studies, which found associations between various conditions and the intake of fish oils, used n-3 intakes well above the 0.2 g/day recommended by Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA). In addition, 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. This review examines the published evidence from observational and intervention studies relating to the health effects of n-3 PUFAs. The authors also discuss whether the current UK recommendation for long-chain n-3 PUFA needs to be revisited.
  • Source: Ruxton, C.H., S.C. Reed, M. J. Simpson Double Dagger, and K. J. Millington. 2004. Journal of Human Nutrition and Diet 17 (5): 449-59.

  • Fish intake during pregnancy and early cognitive development of offspring Fish is a source of many nutrients that can be beneficial during pregnancy, as well as a source of neurotoxicant contaminants such as methylmercury. Many investigations of fish consumption and its effects on neurodevelopment have focused on possible damage from contaminants, whereas potential benefits have been relatively unstudied. The authors evaluated the relationship between maternal fish consumption during pregnancy and their offspring's early development of language and communication skills in a cohort of 7421 British children born in 1991-1992. Fish intake by both the mother and child was measured by questionnaire. The child's cognitive development was evaluated using the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory (15 months of age) and the Denver Developmental Screening Test (18 months of age). Mercury levels were measured in umbilical cord tissue from a subset of 1054 children. Total mercury levels were low and were not associated with neurodevelopment. Maternal fish intake during pregnancy, and postnatally by the infant, were associated with higher developmental scores. The authors concluded that, moderate fish intake during pregnancy and infancy may benefit development when the fish is not contaminated.
  • Source: Daniels, J.L., M.P. Longnecker, A.S. Rowland, and J. Golding. 2004. Epidemiology 15 (4): 394-402.

  • Bioaccumulation of arsenic in marine fish and invertebrates from Alaska and California The authors conducted a study to examine arsenic concentrations and patterns of bioaccumulation in fish and prey species from two geographic locations. Flathead sole were collected from four sites in the Gulf of Alaska and white croaker and English sole were collected from five sites in California. Prey species from each site were also examined and found to contain high arsenic concentrations. In California, sites with the lowest sediment concentrations of arsenic, total organic carbon, and acid-volatile sulfides (AVS) contained invertebrates with the highest tissue concentrations. Regression analysis determined that arsenic in polychaetes was highly correlated to sediment concentrations of arsenic normalized to AVS, but was higher overall for the California samples. Even though invertebrates from several California sites exhibited much higher concentrations of arsenic than invertebrates from the Alaska sites, liver and muscle tissue from flathead sole collected in Alaska usually exhibited higher concentrations than fish from the California sites. When arsenic concentrations in fish liver were plotted against arsenic sediment concentrations normalized to AVS levels, a very high correlation was obtained for all sites. This suggests that AVS, or some factor correlated with AVS, may have been responsible for controlling arsenic bioaccumulation in these fish species through dietary uptake and exposure to arsenic in water. The authors concluded that dietary uptake may be related to fish tissue concentrations, but uptake of aqueous arsenic may be responsible for the higher tissue concentrations in fish from Alaska.
  • Source: Meador, J.P., D.W. Ernest, and A. Kagley. 2004. Arch Environmental Contamamination and Toxicology 47 (2): 223-33.

  • Mercury and lead during breast-feeding Hg and Pb are of public health concern due to their toxic effects on sensitive fetuses, persistence in pregnant and breast-feeding mothers, and widespread occurrence in the environment. To reduce maternal and infant exposure to Hg and Pb, it is necessary to establish guidelines based on an understanding of the environmental occurrence of these metals and exposure pathways for the developing fetus. In this review, environmental exposure, acquisition and storage of these metals via maternal-infant interaction are discussed. Although both metals are dispersed widely in the environment, the risk of infant exposure is primarily influenced by maternal dietary habits, metal speciation and interaction with nutritional status. Hg and Pb possess similar adverse effects on the central nervous system, but they have environmental and metabolic differences that affect both their toxicity and neurobehavioural outcome in infants exposed during fetal development. Hg is primarily found in protein matrices of animal tissue (especially fish and shellfish), whereas Pb is mainly found in osseous structures. The potential of maternal accumulation is higher and lasts longer for Pb than for Hg. Pb stored in bone has a longer half-life than methyl-mercury acquired via fish consumption. Both metals appear in breast milk as a fraction of the levels found in maternal blood supplied to the fetus during gestation. Habitual diets consumed by lactating mothers pose no health hazard to breast-fed infants. Instead, cows' milk-based formulas pose a greater risk of infant exposure to neurotoxic substances.
  • Source: Dorea, J.G. 2004. British Journal of Nutrition 92 (1): 21-40.

  • Beyond the bench: Fish tales to ensure health Fishermen are notorious for telling fish stories about their catches that tend toward exaggeration. A new kind of fish tale, however, does not stretch the truth when making a point to the Hmong community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, about the hazards of eating fish contaminated with methylmercury and PCBs. A video produced by the Community Outreach and Education Program at the NIEHS Marine and Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee communicates in a simple, understandable, and culturally sensitive way the risks of eating contaminated fish. The video teaches methods of catching and preparing fish that can reduce these risks. Free full-text at: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2004/112-13/niehsnews.html#fish
  • Source: Thigpen, K.G. 2004. Environ Health Perspectives 112 (13): A738-9.

  • A red tattoo and a swordfish supper The authors saw a 40-year-old Japanese man referred to their medical pratice with a whole-body rash. His chest, shoulders, and upper arms were covered with tattoos. He reported having been tattooed 16 years earlier, but because the tattoos had faded, he had a second tattoo 3 months before referral. After this second tattooing, he noticed itching at the site of the new tattoo. Two days prior to admission, he ate 250 g of raw swordfish and alfonsino, and developed a pruritic eruption over his entire body. The authors found elevated, crusted, lichenous macules coinciding with the red pigment of the tattoo and exudative erythema involving all the skin. A series of metal patch tests reveals that the patient had a positive reaction to 0.05% aqueous solution of mercury chloride. A series of radioallergosorbent tests (RAST) to swordfish, codfish, tuna, salmon, sardine, king mackerel, and saury; were all negative. The patient did not have any dental fillings. The working diagnosis was made of systemic contact dermatitis caused by an initial sensitization to mercury in tattoo pigment, aggravated by consumption of mercury in the swordfish and alfonsino. The patient was given oral and topical steroids for 3 months, and when last seen, in October, 2003, his erythema and macules had resolved.
  • Source: Tsuruta, D., J. Sowa, N. Higashi, H. Kobayashi, and M. Ishii. 2004. Lancet 364 (9435): 730.


Meetings and Conferences

  • 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. Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting The SRA conference will be held December 5-8, 2004 in Palm Springs, California. Visit this website for more information: http://www.sra.org/events_2004_meeting.php 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
  • Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting The SOT 44th Annual Meeting will be held March 6-10, 2005 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. For more information, visit the website: http://www.toxicology.org/memberservices/meetings/conferences.html#annual 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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