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Water: News

Newsletter—September 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

  • No fish story: Sea's catch found safe to consume. Palm Springs, CA -- A new study has found that adults can safely eat 40 to 70 ounces of fish from the Salton Sea, every two weeks. This study could lead to the state revising a 1986 selenium advisory that warned people to strictly limit fish consumption. The old advisory, that is still in effect, suggests people eat no more than four ounces of fish every two weeks. Health experts think the old recommendation is too conservative and could be modified especially based on the new research.
    • Source: The Desert Sun - July 25, 2006
  • Merizo coast to undergo PCB testing.Merizo, GUAM -- Fish tissue, water, and soil sampling will be conducted along the Merizo coast in an effort to determine the levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the coastal waters. The testing was prompted by high PCB levels in tests performed by the U.S. Coast Guard last year. There is currently a fish consumption advisory in effect for fish caught in the Cocos Lagoon, which the Coast Guard will re-examine when it has new results.
    • Source: The Pacific Daily News on Guam - July 26, 2006
  • Alabama Department of Public Health issues fish consumption advisories for 2006.ALABAMA -- One major addition to this year's advisories is the adoption of a contaminant level for mercury. The goal is to protect people who consume more than one meal of fish per week. Nine water bodies added advisories specifically for mercury and one was able to lift its No Consumption Advisory for PCBs. The remainder of the 2005 advisories are still in effect. For a complete list of advisories, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health.
    • Source: WSFA TV12 - July 28, 2006
  • Is it safe to eat the daily catch?Fort Wayne, IN -- In a combined effort by the Indiana Departments of Health, Environmental Management, and Natural Resources, fish advisories are published annually. Indiana uses a ratings system that places fish species into one of five groups. The Group 5 fish should not be eaten at all, while Group 1 carries no recommended limit for women beyond childbearing age and adult men. Women who are or may become pregnant, those nursing and all children younger than 15 are more sensitive to the contaminants and special advice is given. Indiana's complete 2006 fish consumption advisories can be viewed by going to http://www.in.gov.
    • Source: The Journal Gazette - July 30, 2006
  • Mercury-tainted fish a concern for natives. Wellston, MI -- The Michigan fish consumption advisories make it hard for American Indians to decide between eating the fish like their ancestors or looking out for their health. Fish are a big part of their culture and on average, American Indians eat nearly twice the amount of fish of other Americans. Tribe leaders are torn between upholding old traditions and implementing new guidelines. The Michigan advisory says to limit walleye, northern pike and muskie consumption to one meal a week. Rock bass, yellow perch, and crappie over nine inches in length should also not be eaten more than once a week. There are special recommendations for women of childbearing age and children younger than 15. They should eat no more than one meal per month of these fish.
    • Source: Traverse City Record-Eagle - August 7, 2006
  • Some sport anglers are skeptical about advisory.MICHIGAN -- Anglers often doubt the quality and safety of the fish they catch and tend to be reluctant to eat them. People tend to be skeptical because of reading publications and hearing about PCB, mercury and other contaminants. The fish advisory information published by the Michigan Department of Community Health makes detailed recommendations about certain fish to limit consuming. People tend to avoid those fish altogether as a consequence. The department is working on a new version, planning to update the 2004 version currently available.
    • Source: South Bend Tribune - August 7, 2006
  • Code blue for crabs?MARYLAND -- The two most common seafood items from the Chesapeake Bay are rockfish and blue crabs. People wonder how safe they are to eat. For blue crabs the state of Maryland says up to two meals a week is safe for most adults. For children and pregnant women, the advice is to eat less due to PCB and mercury levels. However, the group Environmental Defense recommends adults eat no more than one meal per month of Maryland blue crabs. Also, they advise that people avoid eating the "mustard" which tends to be higher in contaminants and say that rockfish consumption should be limited because of PCB, mercury, and pesticide levels. There is a discrepancy between what the state recommends eating and what Environmental Defense does. The state suggests limiting consumption to 24 meals from May to December and 12 meals during the remaining months. Again, children and pregnant women should eat less. Environmental Defense recommends only eating farmed rockfish.
    • Source: The Washington Post - August 8, 2006
  • Mercury contamination in fish. MASSACHUSETTS -- Mercury contamination from an old fireworks site in Hanover has forced the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to extend some fish consumption advisories. People should not consume any fish from the following waterbodies: Drinkwater River, Indian Head River, Factory Pond, Luddams Ford impoundment, and the North River to the Route 3 bridge in Hanover, Rembroke and Norwell. There was an advisory previously issued for the North River, but this new one extends it further downstream.
    • Source: Marshfield Mariner - August 9, 2006
  • Group tackles mercury woes.Cortez, CO -- Earlier this year, a mercury advisory was issued for the Vallecito Reservoir. It warned people about consuming walleye and northern pike from the lake. The source of the mercury has not been pinpointed and it may not be a single factor. Even so, a group of community members, tribes, interest groups, industry and government representatives have formed the Four Corners Air Quality Task Force. The group plans on working on all air quality issues including mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. They are also hoping to track down the cause of the mercury contamination in the Vallecito Reservoir.
    • Source: The Durango Herald - August 10, 2006
  • State recommending limits on consumption of some local fish.CALIFORNIA -- The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has issued a first draft of a mercury advisory limiting fish consumption in Lakes Mendocino and Sonoma. The OEHHA is now seeking public input and will be making presentations. The draft advisory can be viewed online at: http://www.oehha.ca.gov.
    • Source: Ukiah Daily Journal - August 18, 2006
  • Despite warnings, many persist in eating fish from Hudson. Croton-on-Hudson, NY -- State health officials have been warning people for years about the dangerous levels of PCBs and mercury in the Hudson River. Current advisories recommend that children under 15 years of age and women of childbearing age should not consume any fish from the Hudson at all. However, when people along the river's banks are asked about their concerns, most acknowledge that they have heard it is not good to eat the fish, but most still consume the fish they catch. In a recent study of Hudson River anglers who say they eat the fish, about 80% tested higher for mercury in their blood. Overall, their mercury levels were still in a safe range.
    • Source: The New York Times - August 19, 2006
  • Persistent pesticides.NEW YORK -- Nassau County has issued a specific warning this month regarding chemical contamination in several water bodies. There are already state-issued advisories, outlined in the "Chemicals in Sportfish and Game" publication. Nassau County health officials want to make sure people are aware of the chemicals contaminating the water where they fish, boat, and swim. Chlordane, an insecticide, has been found in fish tissue in the following water bodies: Ridders Pond, Hall's Pond, Loft's Pond, Upper Massapequa Reservoir, Smith Pond, Whitney Pond, and Freeport Reservoir. To find out more about pesticides and chemicals in New York's waters, please view the state fish advisory at: http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/fish/fish.htm.
    • Source: Long Island Press - August 24, 2006
  • State agencies to look for signs of chemicals in seafood. Lake Charles, LA -- One of the state's worst oil spills occurred two months ago when 25,000 barrels of oil leaked into a southwest Louisiana shipping channel. There were some fish consumption bans put into place immediately. Now officials are beginning a thorough seafood testing program to find out if any oil or chemical contamination occurred. They will test blue crab, shrimp, spotted sea trout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheeps head and a bed of oysters. The results will determine if any other advisories need to be issued or if modifications should be made to those already in place.
    • Source: KPLCTV.com - August 24, 2006

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Current Events, News and Journal Articles

  • Health Wrap: Smoke, fire and mercury.Seattle, WA -- The most significant development at the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant was the issuance of a declaration. The declaration states that methylmercury exposure may increase heart risks in adult men and has toxic effects on developing fetuses. Also, the decrease in mercury emissions in some countries has been offset by increases in emissions in developing countries in the past 30 years. Finally, the declaration encourages people to eat fish with high omega-3 fatty acids and low mercury levels.
    • Source: United Press International - August 11, 2006
  • Huge oil spill off Lebanon threatens to ravage life in the sea. Beirut, LEBANON -- Since July 13 when Israeli air strikes hit fuel storage tanks at a power plant, thousands of gallons of heavy fuel oil have poured into the Mediterranean Sea. So far, it is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 gallons have infiltrated the ocean. The oil spill is greater than 8 miles wide at some points and runs 93 miles long. Cleanup efforts have not yet begun because Israeli forces are blocking access. The cleanup is expected to cost over $150 million and take more than a year. Lebanese officials are telling people to not eat seafood until testing can be done to determine the extent of the pollution.
    • Source: www.mercurynews.com - August 11, 2006
  • Daily intake of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead by consumption of edible marine species. This study estimated the daily metal (arsenic [Ar], cadmium [Cd], mercury [Hg], and lead [Pb]) intake and potential health risks associated with marine species (sardine, tuna, anchovy, mackerel, swordfish, salmon, hake, red mullet, sole, cuttlefish, squid, clam, mussel, and shrimp) consumption for the general population of Catalonia, Spain. Results indicated that As, Cd, Pb, and total Hg intake was below the provisional tolerable weekly intakes (PTWI). However, the estimated methylmercury intake for boys exceeded the PTWI.
    • Source: Falco, G., Llobet, J., Bocio, A., Domingo, J. (2006, August). Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Volume 54(16), 6106-6112.
  • Polychlorinated bipheyls (PCBs) in Korean seafood: an indicator of coastal pollution and potential health effects on humans. PCB concentrations in 18 fish, 9 invertebrates, and 5 processed seafood samples were analyzed. Results indicated that viz. herring, Gizzard shad, Sailfin sandfish, and Atka mackerel tissue concentrations have exceeded the EPA's recommended screening value for human consumption.
    • Source: Kannan, N., Hong, S., Oh, J., Shim, W. (2006, August). Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, Volume 15(6), 5854-5862.
  • Predictors of blood mercury levels in older urban residents. Random samples from 474 subjects from the Baltimore Memory Study were evaluated to determine the distribution and predictors of blood mercury levels in the adult population. Study results indicated that nine percent of the tested subjects have exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended reference dose value.
    • Source: Latshaw, M., Glass, T., Parsons, P., Hidalgo, J., Schwartz, B. (2006, July). Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Volume 48(7), 715-722.
  • Optimization of microwave digestion for mercury determination in marine biological samples by cold vapour atomic absorption spectrometry. This study presents the procedures for optimizing the acid digestion method for determining mercury concentrations in marine biological samples (dolphin liver, fish and mussel tissues) using a closed vessel microwave sample preparation. The study evaluated five digestion procedures with various acid mixtures. Results indicated that the HNO3-H2SO4-K2Cr207 mixture generated the best results. The study also shows that the open digestion system results in more mercury losses in comparison to the microwave digestion. Comparison to two certified reference materials shows that the microwave digestion method is a reliable and rapid method.
    • Source: Cardellicchio, N., Di Leo, A., Giandomenico, S., Santoro, S. (2006, April). Annali Di Chimica, Volume 96(3-4), 159-165.
  • Fish comsumption and time to pregnancy in Japanese women. This study evaluated the relationship between Japanese women fecundity and fish consumption. Hair mercury levels and time to pregnancy in the test subjects were used as indicators for fish consumption and fecundity, respectively. The analyses factor multiple variables into consideration (age, BMI, parity, frequency of intercourse, life-style parameters [smoking, drinking, and dietary habits], and partners of the subjects). Results show that hair mercury concentration was not extracted as a significant indicator for fish consumption, which contradicts with the authors' previous study results. This paper also discussed some of the possible explanations for the discrepancies in the results.
    • Source: Arakawa, C., Yoshinaga, J., Okamura, K., Nakai, K., Satoh, H. (2006, July). International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Volume 209(4), 337-344.
  • Association between biomarkers of exposure to persistent organochloride compounds (POCs). This study evaluated the relationship of serum concentrations of CB-153 and p,p'-DDE in 354 men and women from the Swedish Fishermen's Families Cohort. Consumption of contaminated fatty fish is the major source of exposure for this group of test subjects. Results indicated that there was a significant correlation between these two variables. The authors suggested that analyses of CB-153 or p,p'-DDE may be sufficient to evaluate health effects associated with organochlorine compounds in populations similar to the Swedish Fishermen's Families Cohort.
    • Source: Axmon, A., Rignell-Hydbom, A. (2006, July). Chemosphere, Volume 64(4), 692-694.
  • Toenail mercury and dietary fish consumption. This study analyzed mercury concentrations in toenails from 27 individuals in New Hampshire. Results indicated that toenail concentrations were statistically correlated with the mean combined fish and shellfish consumption. Specifically, mercury concentration in toenail was best predicted by finfish and shellfish consumption. Toenail mercury concentration ranged from 0.04-1.15 mcg/g, with a mean concentration of 0.27 mcg/g.
    • Source: Rees, J., Sturup, S., Chen, S., Folt, C., Karagas, M. (2006, August). Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, Volume 16(5), advance online publication.
  • Kepone in James River Fish: 1976-2002. The Commonwealth of Virginia initiated a finfish-monitoring program in late 1975 to evaluate the potential health effects resulting from chlorinated pesticide contamination from a manufacturing facility in the James River estuary. This paper summarizes the findings from the monitoring activities. The author also noted that a fish consumption advisory is still in effect in the river thirty years after the removal of the contaminated sources.
    • Source: Luellen, D., Vadas, G., Unger, M. (2006, April). Science of the Total Environment, Volume 358(1-3), 286-297.
  • Alterations of visual evoked potentials in preschool Inuit children exposed to methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls from a marine diet. The study assessed the health impacts to visual brain processing in Inuit children from Nunavik (Northern Quebec, Canada) from chronic exposure to PCBs and methylmercury. One hundred and two preschool aged children were tested for total mercury (in blood) and PCB 153 (in plasma) concentrations. Results indicated that alterations of pattern-reversal visual evoked potentials (VEPs) were associated with exposure to these two contaminants via fish and sea mammal consumption. A significant relationship was found between the time of testing and the neurotoxicant concentrations. No significant relationship was observed for nutrients and contaminants, which indicates that nutrients may not provide protection against environmental neurotoxicants as some may believe. The author concluded that VEP is a valuable tool for assessing the developmental neurotoxicity of environmental contaminants in fish-eating populations.
    • Source: Saint-Amour, D., Roy, M., Bastien, C, Ayotte, P, Dewailly, E., Despres, C., Gingras, S., Muckle, G. (2006, August). Neurotoxicology, Volume 27(4), 567-578.
  • Mercury from fish does not reduce children's IQs. This paper critiques a study conducted by Trasande, et al. (2005), "Public health and economic consequences of environmental methyl mercury toxicity to the developing brain". The paper suggests that the analyses conducted by Trasande, et al. is flawed and invalid, and therefore is not appropriate for use in policy decision making. This paper presents a number of errors such as overestimation of the percent of newborns exposed to elevated methyl mercury concentrations, underestimation of the reference dose value, and overestimation of the methyl mercury concentrations for pregnant women.
    • Source: Schwartz, J. (2006, July). Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 114(7), A399-A400.
  • Mercury from fish does not reduce children's IQs - Response. This paper includes responses to the criticisms presented by Schwartz, J. (2006). The authors of this paper include detailed references and explanation to clarify the original working assumption in the Trasande et al. study.
    • Source: Trasande, L., Landrigan, P, Schechter, C. (2006, July). Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 114(7), A400-A401.

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Meetings and Conferences

  • American Fisheries Society (AFS) 136th Annual Meeting. September 10-14, 2006, Lake Placid, NY. For more information, visit AFS http://www.afslakeplacid.org/. Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • 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/index.htm.

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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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