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Water: News

Newsletter—October 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

  • Signs posted about eating fish from bay. San Diego, CA -- New signs were posted by the San Diego Bay Council, warning of the dangers of consuming fish and shellfish from the San Diego Bay. The very first signs had been erected in 1990. The new signs are intended to warn people that the bay is contaminated and that people, especially children and pregnant women, should limit their consumption.
    • Source: NBCSanDiego.com - September 5, 2006
  • Quality fish: Deer Lake mercury levels dropping. Marquette, MI -- There has been tremendous progress with the cleanup of Deer Lake, near Ishpeming. For nearly thirty years, the EPA and Michigan DEQ have been monitoring the efforts to restore the lake. There were originally mercury problems and concerns about eagle reproduction. There has also been a fish consumption advisory in place. The goal is that within the next two years, the advisory can be lifted. Eagles have been nesting by the lake since 1998, leading to the beneficial use impairment (BUI) being in the process of getting lifted.
    • Source: The Mining Journal - September 9, 2006
  • Catch of the day: good info fish advisories need to get out in three languages. Madison, WI -- Even though it looks like mercury levels in lake sediments may have decreased this year, there is a growing concern about the fish advisories on the Monona Bay. The waters are fished heavily by people of Hmong, African-American, and Hispanic ethnicities. All of the posted warnings about contaminated fish and limiting how much locally-caught fish to eat are printed in English. Brochures with the information are available in English, Hmong, and Spanish, but officials at the Department of Natural Resources are still concerned the message is not getting out. The DNR's goal is to improve outreach to the community, specifically those that may have a more limited command of the English language.
    • Source: www.madison.com - September 15, 2006
  • Do not eat the fish warning. Ashtabula, OH -- Fishermen are being advised not to eat fish caught in the lower two miles of the Ashtabula River due to a three-year dredging project. It is a precautionary warning that was issued by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The fish targeted by the advisory are walleye, northern pike, carp, sunfish, bass, and steelheads. The dredging will stir up sediments in the riverbed, which then have the potential to be absorbed by the fish.
    • Source: Star Beacon - September 15, 2006
  • Mercury in fish brings warning. CANADA -- Toronto Public Health has issued a very conservative fish advisory. It is recommending that pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and young children completely avoid eating "high mercury fish." At most, they are saying one serving a month should be eaten. High mercury fish are shark, swordfish, and tuna (fresh or frozen). The warning is a result of a lot of confusion over available misinformation being available.
    • Source: The Star - September 15, 2006

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Current Events, News and Journal Articles

  • An environmental disaster emerges on Lebanon coast. Beirut, LEBANON -- The worst environmental disaster in Lebanon's history was triggered by July 15 Israeli jets. The jets bombed a power station, triggering a 15,000-ton heavy fuel oil spill that has extended to all 200 of the country's beaches. The estimated cleanup cost is now at $150 million and is expected to take two years. The oil is as thick as four inches in some areas and has killed all types of wildlife from limpets and algae to fish, crabs, and mussels. The fish are not safe to consume because of hydrocarbon contamination. Because cleanup efforts have been hindered by the conflict with Israel, the oil could still extend to the neighboring shores of Turkey and Syria.
    • Source: SFGate.com - August 28, 2006
  • Alaska's fish are very clean. Fairbanks, AK -- The Department of Environmental Conservation sponsored a study that examined over 600 fish samples from all across the state of Alaska. Fish from both fresh and saltwater bodies were collected and their tissues analyzed for various contaminants. The results were good for Alaska, with the fish showing very low levels of PCBs and other organic pollutants.
    • Source: Alaska Report - August 29, 2006
  • Toxic swordfish found in the Mediterranean. Brussels, BELGIUM -- Traces of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) have been found in Mediterranean swordfish off of the coast of Italy. A study was conducted by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and the University of Siena. Researchers tested 17 swordfish samples for 28 different chemicals. Traces of organochlorines were found in every sample while PBDE was found in all but one sample.
    • Source: www.panda.org - August 29, 2006
  • Mercury in fish seems not to harm older brains. Islamabad, PAKISTAN -- A Johns Hopkins University study of 474 older adults found that there was no decrease in brain function due to elevated levels of mercury in the bloodstream. All of the adults in the study were between the ages of 50 and 70 and were asked to perform 12 different tests of mental function. Those that had higher levels of mercury in their blood performed at an equal level of those with lower mercury levels. On tests involving manual dexterity, the adults with higher mercury levels actually outperformed the rest of the group. All of the adults in the study had blood mercury levels lower than what the EPA considers potentially harmful.
    • Source: ONLINE - International News Network - September 11, 2006
  • Mercury in fish available in supermarkets in Illinois: Are there regional differences. This paper evaluates mercury concentration in six types of fish purchased from local Chicago, IL supermarkets. Maximum concentrations in three species (orange roughy, swordfish, and walleye) have exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action level for mercury. This study also compared these local fish tissue data with those presented by the FDA (i.e. national database). This paper summarizes the differences between the dataset and suggested that periodic local monitoring may be needed due to variability of local data (Chicago) from the national database.
    • Source: Burger, J., Gochfeld, M. (2006, August). Science of the Total Environment, Volume 367(2-3), 1010-1016.
  • Mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic, copper, and zinc concentrations in albacore, yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna from the Atlantic Ocean. This paper summarizes findings of metal concentration (Hg, Cd, Pb, As, Cu, and Zn) in albacore, yellowfin tuna, and bigeye tuna from the Atlantic Ocean. Results indicated that the maximum Hg concentrations for some bigeye tuna have exceeded the maximum permissible levels established by Commission Regulations. Mercury concentrations were found to increase with increased size for the sampled fish for all three species. No trends were observed for all other metals analyzed.
    • Source: Besada, V., Gonzales, J., Schultze, F. (2006). Ciencias Marinas, Volume 32(2b), 439-445.
  • PCBs, PCDD/Fs, and organochlorine pesticides in farmed Atlantic salmon from Maine, eastern Canada, and Norway, and wild salmon from Alaska. This study evaluates the concentrations of PCBs, PCDD/Fs, and organochlorine pesticides in farmed Atlantic salmon from Maine, eastern Canada, and Norway. In addition, this study compares the concentrations observed in these farmed salmon to those in the wild salmon from Alaska. Results indicated that total PCB concentrations were significantly higher in the farmed salmon in comparison to those in the wild Alaskan salmon. Concentrations found in the eastern Canada salmon were lower than the previously reported concentration (~2 years ago). The highest PCB concentrations were found in the organically farmed Norwegian salmon, with a mean concentration of 27 ng/g, wet weight. PCB concentrations were highly variable in the skin-off samples, indicating skin removal may not be sufficient to protect human health.
    • Source: Shaw, S., Brenner, D., Berger, M., Carpenter, D., Hong, C., Kannan, K. (2006, September). Environmental Science and Technology, Volume 40(17), 5347-5354.
  • Methylmercury exposure in Wisconsin: a case study series. This study evaluated the health effects associated with fish consumption and mercury exposure. Results indicated that dietary mercury intake estimates correlated with the steady-state blood mercury levels (<5 to 58 µg/L) in 10 adults and 1 child. Of the 14 people tested, 3 experienced vague, subclinical symptoms (e.g. mental confusion, sleep difficulty, balance problems, and visual disturbances), which improved when their mercury levels returned to normal.
    • Source: Knobeloch, L., Steenport, D., Schrank, C., Anderson, H. (2006, May). Environmental Research, Volume 101(1), 113-122.
  • Mercury distribution in fish organs and food regimes: Significant relationships from twelve species collected in French Guiana (Amazonian basin). Many studies have shown that mercury accumulation levels are highly variable under the influence of mercury biomagnification. Results from the first principal component analysis indicated that fish species and their food regimes were the major confounding factors for mercury distribution in the organs. This study estimated the ratios between mercury concentrations in each organ to the skeletal muscle to avoid the masking effects of biomagnification. This paper summarizes these ratios for twelve fish species from six food regimes collected from the upper part of the Maroni River. Ratios were calculated for six organs (gills, liver, kidneys, skeletal muscle, stomach, and intestine).
    • Source: Regine, M., Gilles, D., Yannick, D., Alain, B. (2006, September). Science of the Total Environment, Volume 368(1), 262-270.

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Meetings and Conferences

  • New Mexico Environmental Health (NMEHC) Conference. October 29-November 1, 2006, Albuquerque, NM. For more information, visit NMEHC http://www.nhemc.net/.[BROKEN LINK] Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) Annual Conference. November 5-8, 2006, Norfolk, VA. For more information, visit SEAFWA http://www.seafwa.org/schedule.htmExit EPA Disclaimer
  • American Public Health Association (APHA) 134th Annual Meeting. November 4-8, 2006, Boston, MA. For more information, visit APHA http://www.apha.org/meetings/Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America 27th Annual Meeting. November 5-9, 2006, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. For more information, visit SETAC http://www.setac.org/montreal/Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) 2006 Annual Meeting. December 3-6, 2006, Baltimore, MD. For more information, visit SRA http://www.sra.org/events_2006_meeting.phpExit EPA Disclaimer
  • 2006 National Environmental Public Health (NCEH) Conference. December 4-6, 2006, Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit NCEH http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/conference/.

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For More Information

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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