Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Water: News

Newsletter—September 2011

 Mccall

McCall, a resort town in Idaho situated on the southern shore of Payette Lake. By Karthikc123 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Print Version (PDF) (8 pp, 665K, About PDF)

Recent Advisory News

Montana issues fish consumption advisory for Yellowstone River oil spill area

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department (FWP) recently issued a fish consumption advisory for a stretch of the Yellowstone River due to contamination from an oil spill in the river on July 1. Most state fishing access sites in that stretch of river had been closed for several months due to flooding from high runoff levels. FWP said the advisory was issued as a precaution pending the results of fish tissue contaminant testing, and that the agency will continue to sample fish throughout the river to try to detect any accumulation over time. For more information, visit www.yellowstoneriveroilspill.mt.govExit EPA Disclaimer.

Link to original article: http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/article_16be638e-560e-538e-88d4-9b3e9e07fd17.htmlExit EPA Disclaimer

Source: The Billings Gazette (MT), 7/24/2011.

Idaho issues advisory on Payette Lake fish

The Idaho Division of Public Health issued a fish advisory in July recommending that children under 15 and pregnant women limit their consumption of lake trout from Payette Lake to two meals per month. Officials say tests found levels of mercury similar to amounts found in commercial albacore tuna, which also carries warnings for limited consumption.

Link to original article: http://www.idahopress.com/news/state/state-issues-advisory-on-payette-lake-fish/article_2dd22220-ac6c-56d9-9760-10f12d1cc5a8.html0Exit EPA Disclaimer

Source: Idaho Press-Tribune (ID), 7/14/2011.

Tribal monitoring of mercury in the Great Lakes region

The federally-funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has awarded a three-year $458,000 grant to the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) to study mercury contamination in fish from inland lakes in northern Wisconsin, and from a few lakes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and northern Minnesota. Mic Isham of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwa is the chairman of the GLIFWC board. He says that it’s appropriate the tribes conduct this work to monitor mercury levels. “I mean we eat (fish) at every feast, at every funeral, at every ceremony and then just within the family home for your regular family meal,” Isham said. “And so any contaminants, especially ones that are bioaccumulative, really affect us more than the general population who may eat a walleye here and there when they go out fishing.” GLIFWC says that analyses have shown that mercury levels in fish have been declining slightly over the past few years, but that the effort to test fish for mercury remains important in order to issue informed advice to consumers about how much fish they can safely eat.

Link to original article: http://www.superiortelegram.com/event/article/id/56160/Exit EPA Disclaimer

Source: Superior Telegram, 7/29/2011.

Scientists to examine Alabama fishing rodeo catch

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's mobile laboratory collected samples from hundreds of fish brought to the scales at the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo in July. About 40 fish per day were to be given a "rapid assessment," which included analysis for contaminants such as mercury as well as oil pollution compounds and red tide bacteria.

Link to original article: http://news.yahoo.com/scientists-examine-ala-fishing-rodeo-catch-110742196.htmlExit EPA Disclaimer

Source: The Associated Press, 7/15/2011.

Arizona issues fish consumption advisory for Tonto Creek

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is advising people not to eat certain fish caught in a 50-mile stretch of the Tonto Creek in Gila County due to elevated levels of mercury in the fish. The advisory recommends no consumption of smallmouth and largemouth bass, green sunfish and black bullhead catfish caught in Tonto Creek between Hellsgate Wilderness and Roosevelt Lake. Additionally, children under 6 should not eat common carp, and children aged 6-16 should restrict their consumption. Trout from the creek are not contaminated and are safe to eat.

Link to original article: http://www.fox11az.com/news/local/125941558.htmlExit EPA Disclaimer

Source: The Associated Press, 7/21/2011.


Recent Publications

Please note: The following abstracts are reprinted verbatim unless otherwise noted.

Recognizing and Preventing Overexposure to Methylmercury from Fish and Seafood Consumption: Information for Physicians

Fish is a valuable source of nutrition, and many people would benefit from eating fish regularly. But some people eat a lot of fish, every day or several meals per week, and thus can run a significant risk of overexposure to methylmercury. Current advice regarding methylmercury from fish consumption is targeted to protect the developing brain and nervous system but adverse health effects are increasingly associated with adult chronic low-level methylmercury exposure. Manifestations of methylmercury poisoning are variable and may be difficult to detect unless one considers this specific diagnosis and does an appropriate test (blood or hair analysis). We provide information to physicians to recognize and prevent overexposure to methylmercury from fish and seafood consumption. Physicians are urged to ask patients if they eat fish: how often, how much, and what kinds. People who eat fish frequently (once a week or more often) and pregnant women are advised to choose low mercury fish.

Source: Silbernagel, S.M., D.O. Carpenter, S. G. Gilbert, et al., “Recognizing and Preventing Overexposure to Methylmercury from Fish and Seafood Consumption: Information for Physicians,” Journal of Toxicology, vol. 2011, Article ID 983072, 7 pages, 2011.

Estimating risk at a Superfund site using passive sampling devices as biological surrogates in human health risk models

Passive sampling devices (PSDs) sequester the freely dissolved fraction of lipophilic contaminants, mimicking passive chemical uptake and accumulation by biomembranes and lipid tissues. Public Health Assessments that inform the public about health risks from exposure to contaminants through consumption of resident fish are generally based on tissue data, which can be difficult to obtain and requires destructive sampling. The purpose of this study is to apply PSD data in a Public Health Assessment to demonstrate that PSDs can be used as a biological surrogate to evaluate potential human health risks and elucidate spatio-temporal variations in risk. PSDs were used to measure polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the Willamette River; upriver, downriver and within the Portland Harbor Superfund megasite for 3years during wet and dry seasons. Based on an existing Public Health Assessment for this area, concentrations of PAHs in PSDs were substituted for fish tissue concentrations. PSD measured PAH concentrations captured the magnitude, range and variability of PAH concentrations reported for fish/shellfish from Portland Harbor. Using PSD results in place of fish data revealed an unacceptable risk level for cancer in all seasons but no unacceptable risk for non-cancer endpoints. Estimated cancer risk varied by several orders of magnitude based on season and location. Sites near coal tar contamination demonstrated the highest risk, particularly during the dry season and remediation activities. Incorporating PSD data into Public Health Assessments provides specific spatial and temporal contaminant exposure information that can assist public health professionals in evaluating human health risks.

Source: Allan, S. E., G. J. Sower, et al. (2011). "Estimating risk at a Superfund site using passive sampling devices as biological surrogates in human health risk models." Chemosphere 2011 Jul 7. [Epub ahead of print].

Spatial variability in the speciation and bioaccumulation of mercury in an arid subtropical reservoir ecosystem

Patterns of spatial variation of mercury (Hg) and methylmercury (MeHg) were examined in sediments and muscle tissue of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) from Amistad International Reservoir, a large and hydrologically complex subtropical water body in the Rio Grande drainage. The distribution of both Hg and MeHg were compared with environmental and biological factors known to influence production of MeHg. The highest concentrations of total Hg (THg) in sediment were found in the Rio Grande arm of the reservoir, while MeHg was highest at sites in the Devils River arm and inundated Pecos River (often over 3.0 ng/g). Conditions in the sediments of the Devils River arm and Pecos River channel were likely more favorable to the production of MeHg, with higher sediment pore water dissolved organic carbon, and porewater sulfate levels in the optimum range for methylation. While the detection of different groups of sulfate reducing bacteria by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was generally correlated with MeHg concentrations, bacterial counts done by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) did not correlate with MeHg. A sample of 156 largemouth bass (<30 cm) showed a similar spatial pattern to MeHg in sediments, where fish from the Devils River arm of the reservoir had higher muscle Hg concentrations than those collected in the Rio Grande arm. In 88 bass of legal sport fishing size (>35 cm), 77% exceeded the 0.3 mg/kg U.S. Environmental Protection Agency screening value. This study shows that significant variation in sediment MeHg and biotic Hg concentration can exist within lakes and reservoirs, and that it can correspond to variation in environmental conditions and Hg methylation.

Source: Becker, J. C., A. W. Groeger, et al. (2011). "Spatial variability in the speciation and bioaccumulation of mercury in an arid subtropical reservoir ecosystem." Environ Toxicol Chem 2011 Jul 18. doi: 10.1002/etc.626. [Epub ahead of print].

Adherence to a low-risk, healthy lifestyle and risk of sudden cardiac death among women

CONTEXT: Sudden cardiac death (SCD) accounts for more than half of all cardiac deaths; the majority of SCD events occur as the first manifestation of heart disease, especially among women. Primary preventive strategies are needed to reduce SCD incidence. OBJECTIVE: To estimate the degree to which adherence to a healthy lifestyle may lower the risk of SCD among women. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A prospective cohort study of 81,722 US women in the Nurses' Health Study from June 1984 to June 2010. Lifestyle factors were assessed via questionnaires every 2 to 4 years. A low-risk lifestyle was defined as not smoking, body mass index of less than 25, exercise duration of 30 minutes/day or longer, and top 40% of the alternate Mediterranean diet score, which emphasizes high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish and moderate intake of alcohol. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Sudden cardiac death (defined as death occurring within 1 hour after symptom onset without evidence of circulatory collapse). RESULTS: There were 321 cases of SCD during 26 years of follow-up. Women were a mean age of 72 years at the time of the SCD event. All 4 low-risk lifestyle factors were significantly and independently associated with a lower risk of SCD. The absolute risks of SCD were 22 cases/100,000 person-years among women with 0 low-risk factors, 17 cases/100,000 person-years with 1 low-risk factor, 18 cases/100,000 person-years with 2 low-risk factors, 13 cases/100,000 person-years with 3 low-risk factors, and 16 cases/100,000 person-years with 4 low-risk factors. Compared with women with 0 low-risk factors, the multivariable relative risk of SCD was 0.54 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.34-0.86) for women with 1 low-risk factor, 0.41 (95% CI, 0.25-0.65) for 2 low-risk factors, 0.33 (95% CI, 0.20-0.54) for 3 low-risk factors, and 0.08 (95% CI, 0.03-0.23) for 4 low-risk factors. The proportion of SCD attributable to smoking, inactivity, overweight, and poor diet was 81% (95% CI, 52%-93%). Among women without clinically diagnosed coronary heart disease, the percentage of population attributable risk was 79% (95% CI, 40%-93%). CONCLUSION: Adherence to a low-risk lifestyle is associated with a low risk of SCD.

Source: Chiuve, S. E., T. T. Fung, et al. (2011). "Adherence to a low-risk, healthy lifestyle and risk of sudden cardiac death among women." JAMA 306(1): 62-69.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in indoor air and in serum among older residents of upper Hudson River communities

A study was conducted to evaluate the association between PCBs in residential indoor air and in the serum of older, long time residents of three upper Hudson River communities. Samples of indoor air and of serum were collected from 170 persons 55 to 74years of age, and analyzed for PCBs using glass capillary gas chromatography. After adjusting for age, BMI, cigarette smoking, and Hudson River fish consumption with multiple linear regression analysis, the results indicated statistically significant associations between concentrations in indoor air and serum for PCB-28, a lightly chlorinated congener common in air that accumulates in serum, and PCB-105. Duration of exposure was an important factor, since among persons who had lived in their home for 39years or more, 11 of the 12 most commonly detected congeners were significantly correlated, as was their sum (summation operator PCB). Significant associations between indoor air and serum PCB concentrations also were more likely when collected in cooler months and if the two samples were collected within 20d of each other. The study is among the first to indicate that PCB concentrations characteristic of residential indoor air are associated with a detectable increase in body burden.

Source: Fitzgerald, E. F., S. Shrestha, et al. (2011). "Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in indoor air and in serum among older residents of upper Hudson River communities." Chemosphere 2011 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print].

Omega-3: a link between global climate change and human health

In recent years, global climate change has been shown to detrimentally affect many biological and environmental factors, including those of marine ecosystems. In particular, global climate change has been linked to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, UV irradiation, and ocean temperatures, resulting in decreased marine phytoplankton growth and reduced synthesis of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Marine phytoplankton are the primary producers of omega-3 PUFAs, which are essential nutrients for normal human growth and development and have many beneficial effects on human health. Thus, these detrimental effects of climate change on the oceans may reduce the availability of omega-3 PUFAs in our diets, exacerbating the modern deficiency of omega-3 PUFAs and imbalance of the tissue omega-6/omega-3 PUFA ratio, which have been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease. This article provides new insight into the relationship between global climate change and human health by identifying omega-3 PUFA availability as a potentially important link, and proposes a biotechnological strategy for addressing the potential shortage of omega-3 PUFAs in human diets resulting from global climate change.

Kang, J. X. (2011). "Omega-3: a link between global climate change and human health." Biotechnol Adv 29(4): 388-390.

Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and striped mullet (Mugil cephalus) as vectors of contaminants to human consumers in northwest Florida

The health benefits of regular consumption of fish and seafood have been espoused for many years. However, fish are also a potential source of environmental contaminants that have well known adverse effects on human health. We investigated the consumption risks for largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides; n = 104) and striped mullet (Mugil cephalus; n = 170), two commonly harvested and consumed fish species inhabiting fresh and estuarine waters in northwest Florida. Skinless fillets were analyzed for total mercury, inorganic arsenic, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/F), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and organochlorine pesticides. Contaminant levels were compared to screening values (SV) calculated using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations for establishing consumption advisories. Largemouth bass were found to contain high levels of total mercury at all sampling locations (0.37-0.89 ug/g) and one location exhibited elevated total PCBs (39.4 ng/g). All of the samples exceeded Florida fish consumption advisory trigger levels for total mercury and one location exceeded the U.S. EPA SV for total PCBs. As a result of the high mercury levels, the non-cancer health risks (hazard index-HI) for bass were above 1 for all locations. Striped mullet from several locations with known point sources contained elevated levels of PCBs (overall range 3.4-59.3 ng/g). However, total mercury levels in mullet were low. Eight of the 16 mullet sampling locations exceeded the U.S. EPA SV for total PCBs and two locations exceeded an HI of 1 due to elevated PCBs. Despite the elevated levels of total PCBs in some samples, only two locations exceeded the acceptable cancer risk range and therefore cancer health risks from consumption of bass and mullet were determined to be low at most sampling locations.

Source: Karouna-Renier, N. K., R. A. Snyder, et al. (2011). "Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and striped mullet (Mugil cephalus) as vectors of contaminants to human consumers in northwest Florida." Mar Environ Res 2011 Jun 21. [Epub ahead of print].

Biomonitoring as an intervention against methylmercury exposure

OBJECTIVES: We evaluated the effectiveness of biomonitoring as an intervention against methylmercury exposure. METHODS: During 2004, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services assessed fish consumption and methylmercury exposure among 2,031 men and women who responded to a statewide press release. People whose hair mercury levels exceeded 1 microgram per gram (microg/g) were advised to reduce their intake of large, predatory fish. Others were informed that mercury exposure was not an issue for them and were encouraged to continue to eat fish as part of a healthy diet. In 2008, follow-up questionnaires and hair sampling kits were mailed to all 2004 study participants. RESULTS: Completed surveys and hair samples were received from 1,139 individuals. While overall fish intake for this group increased slightly, from 8,561 to 8,785 servings per month between 2004 and 2008, the intake rate was significantly reduced among people whose 2004 hair mercury levels were >1 microg/g, and 30% of the cohort reported eating different types of fish or smaller fish in 2008. The number of people who had a hair mercury level >1 microg/g fell from 300 in 2004 to 206 in 2008. CONCLUSIONS: Hair mercury analysis and explanatory result letters appear to have had a long-term effect on methylmercury exposure and the selection of fish. These findings support the public health benefit of methylmercury screening in conjunction with results-based education among frequent consumers of commercial and sport-caught fish.

Source: Knobeloch, L., C. Tomasallo, et al. (2011). "Biomonitoring as an intervention against methylmercury exposure." Public Health Rep 126(4): 568-574.

Veterinary Drug Residues in Seafood Inspected by the European Union, United States, Canada, and Japan from 2000 to 2009

Veterinary drugs are used to treat or prevent a wide array of production-related diseases in aquaculture. Residues of these drugs in seafood products may pose risks to consumers, prompting governments to set drug residue tolerance levels and inspect seafood for violations of these standards. This study characterizes veterinary drug inspection policies and violations among four inspecting bodies (European Union, United States, Canada, and Japan), using government-collected veterinary drug violation data from 2000 to 2009. Most veterinary drug violations were detected in species that are commonly farm-raised. Asian seafood products, including shrimp and prawns, catfish (or fish sold as catfish), crab, tilapia, eel, and Chilean salmon were most frequently in violation of veterinary drug residue standards. Vietnam had the greatest number of violations among exporting countries. Concentrations of most veterinary drugs in seafood found in violation did not differ between inspecting bodies that reported drug concentrations. Transparency in seafood inspection reporting varied widely among inspecting bodies. Estimation of violations in the untested fraction of seafood was precluded by a lack of information from inspecting bodies regarding the distinction between targeted and random sampling. Increased transparency could facilitate a more rigorous characterization of public health risks from consuming imported seafood.

Source: Love, D. C., S. Rodman, et al. (2011). "Veterinary Drug Residues in Seafood Inspected by the European Union, United States, Canada, and Japan from 2000 to 2009." Environ Sci Technol 2011 Aug 10. [Epub ahead of print].

Spatial patterns of mercury in macroinvertebrates and fishes from streams of two contrasting forested landscapes in the eastern United States

Controls on mercury bioaccumulation in lotic ecosystems are not well understood. During 2007-2009, we studied mercury and stable isotope spatial patterns of macroinvertebrates and fishes from two medium-sized (<80 km(2)) forested basins in contrasting settings. Samples were collected seasonally from multiple sites across the Fishing Brook basin (FB(NY)), in New York's Adirondack Mountains, and the McTier Creek basin (MC(SC)), in South Carolina's Coastal Plain. Mean methylmercury (MeHg) concentrations within macroinvertebrate feeding groups, and mean total mercury (THg) concentrations within most fish feeding groups were similar between the two regions. However, mean THg concentrations in game fish and forage fish, overall, were much lower in FB(NY) (1300 and 590 ng/g dw, respectively) than in MC(SC) (2300 and 780 ng/g dw, respectively), due to lower trophic positions of these groups from FB(NY) (means 3.3 and 2.7, respectively) than MC(SC) (means 3.7 and 3.3, respectively). Much larger spatial variation in topography and water chemistry across FB(NY) contributed to greater spatial variation in biotic Hg and positive correlations with dissolved MeHg and organic carbon in streamwater. Hydrologic transport distance (HTD) was negatively correlated with biotic Hg across FB(NY), and was a better predictor than wetland density. The small range of landscape conditions across MC(SC) resulted in no consistent spatial patterns, and no discernable correspondence with local-scale environmental factors. This study demonstrates the importance of local-scale environmental factors to mercury bioaccumulation in topographically heterogeneous landscapes, and provides evidence that food-chain length can be an important predictor of broad-scale differences in Hg bioaccumulation among streams.

Source: Riva-Murray, K., L. C. Chasar, et al. (2011). "Spatial patterns of mercury in macroinvertebrates and fishes from streams of two contrasting forested landscapes in the eastern United States." Ecotoxicology 2011 Jul 9. [Epub ahead of print].

Assessment of mercury bioaccumulation within the pelagic food web of lakes in the western Great Lakes region

While mercury is a health hazard to humans and wildlife, the biogeochemical processes responsible for its bioaccumulation in pelagic food webs are still being examined. Previous studies have indicated both "bottom-up" control of piscivorous fish Hg content through methylmercury. (MeHg) supply, as well as site-specific trophic factors. We evaluated ten studies from the western Great Lakes region to examine the similarity of MeHg trophic transfer efficiency within the pelagic food web, and assessed regional-scale spatial variability. Analyses of bioaccumulation and biomagnification factors between water, seston, zooplankton, and preyfish indicated that the largest increases in MeHg occurred at the base of the food web, and that the relative extent of trophic transfer was similar between sites. Positive correlations were observed between aqueous unfiltered MeHg, total Hg, and dissolved organic carbon, and measures of the efficiency of MeHg trophic transfer were consistent across widely disparate systems (both natural and experimentally manipulated) throughout North America. Such similarity suggests that the aqueous supply of MeHg is largely controlling bioaccumulation in pelagic food webs, while local, lake-specific variability can result from an array of trophic (biological) factors.

Source: Rolfhus, K. R., B. D. Hall, et al. (2011). "Assessment of mercury bioaccumulation within the pelagic food web of lakes in the western Great Lakes region." Ecotoxicology 2011 Jul 7. [Epub ahead of print].

Distributions of polyhalogenated compounds in Hudson River (New York, USA) fish in relation to human uses along the river

PCBs (as Aroclor concentrations) have been extensively examined in fish along the Hudson River, but other xenobiotic chemicals in fish have had limited assessment. This study determined concentrations and congener distributions of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polybrominated and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PBDD/Fs and PCDD/Fs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in smallmouth bass and striped bass taken from a 385km reach of the Hudson River. Concentrations of PBDEs and PCBs in smallmouth bass, and PCBs in striped bass, were positively related to human uses of the compounds in the basin. Generally low levels of PCDD/Fs were found. One striped bass, however, contained elevated 2,3,7,8-TCDD, indicating exposure to a known source in the adjacent Newark Bay-Passaic River basin. PBDDs were generally below detection. PBDFs were present in four of 18 smallmouth bass, but were not detected in striped bass. Dioxin-like PCBs contribute most to 2,3,7,8-TCDD toxic equivalents in 29 of 30 samples.

Source: Skinner, L. C. (2011). "Distributions of polyhalogenated compounds in Hudson River (New York, USA) fish in relation to human uses along the river." Environ Pollut 2011 Jul 8. [Epub ahead of print].

Communicating fish consumption advisories in California: what works, what doesn't

State agencies face many challenges in creating sport fish consumption advisories that can be readily understood by diverse populations. In this study, our objectives were to identify barriers to understanding consumption advisories and recommend more effective approaches for communicating advisory concepts. We conducted key informant interviews with demographically diverse consumers of sport fish from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed in California to explore how intended audiences perceive consumption advisories and identify factors that influence comprehension. Some barriers to communication included the use of portion sizes that departed from commonly consumed amounts, poorly understood terminology, misleading category headings, and ineffective visual tools. Comprehension was enhanced when advisory information did not contradict existing beliefs about fish or fish consumption, and when advisories provided information about contaminant levels in specific kinds of fish. Using certain methods, such as portion sizes that reflect commonly consumed amounts, mercury meters to convey contaminant levels, three advice categories (e.g., high, medium, low), and population definitions that identify specific age ranges, improved the clarity of advisory concepts for intended audiences.

Source: Tan, M. L., A. Ujihara, et al. (2011). "Communicating fish consumption advisories in California: what works, what doesn't." Risk Anal 31(7): 1095-1106.

Organochlorine and metal contaminants in traditional foods from St. Lawrence Island, Alaska

Marine mammals (bowhead whale, walrus, and various seals) constitute the major component of the diet of the Yupik people of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. St. Lawrence Island residents have higher serum concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) than in the general U.S. population. In order to determine potential sources, traditional food samples were collected from 2004 to 2009 and analyzed for PCBs, three chlorinated pesticides, and seven heavy metals (mercury, copper, zinc, arsenic, selenium, cadmium, and lead). Concentrations of PCB in rendered oils (193-421 ppb) and blubber (73-317 ppb) from all marine mammal samples were at levels that trigger advisories for severely restricted consumption, using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fish consumption advisories. Concentrations of pesticides were lower, but were still elevated. The highest PCB concentrations were found in polar bear (445 ppb) and the lowest in reindeer adipose tissue (2 ppb). Marine mammal and polar bear meat in general have PCB concentrations that were 1-5% of those in rendered oils or adipose tissue. PCB concentrations in organs were higher than meat. Concentrations of metals in oils and meats from all species were relatively low, but increased levels of mercury, cadmium, copper, and zinc were present in some liver and kidney samples. Mercury and arsenic were found in lipid-rich samples, indicating organometals. These results show that the source of the elevated concentrations of these contaminants in the Yupik population is primarily from consumption of marine mammal blubber and rendered oils.

Source: Welfinger-Smith, G., J. L. Minholz, et al. (2011). "Organochlorine and metal contaminants in traditional foods from st. Lawrence island, alaska." J Toxicol Environ Health A 74(18): 1195-1214.

Mercury temporal trends in top predator fish of the Laurentian Great Lakes

Mercury (Hg) contamination is widespread in the Laurentian Great Lakes region and is a serious environmental concern. In anaerobic environments such as lake sediments, mercury is transformed into methylmercury (MeHg) and can biomagnify up the food chain to toxic concentrations. The Great Lakes Fish Monitoring Program (GLFMP), administered by the US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), aims to monitor temporal trends of mercury in the five Great Lakes using top predator fish as biomonitors. Total Hg (THg) concentrations were measured in Great Lake fish collected between 1999 and 2009. Single factor ANOVA determined that average fish THg concentrations over this time period in the five lakes were significantly different from one another in the order of Superior > Huron > Michigan > Ontario > Erie. By fitting the data to three different models (linear, quadratic, and two-segment piecewise), it was determined that Hg concentrations in top predator fish (lake trout, or walleye in Lake Erie) are currently increasing in Lake Erie and the Apostle Island sampling site in Lake Superior. Significant decreasing trends are evident in Lakes Michigan, Ontario, and the Rockport sampling site in Lake Huron, although all of the lakes exhibit elevated concentrations in fish compared to historic concentrations. As new Hg emission controls are implemented in the US, continued monitoring of Hg in Great Lakes fish will be needed to determine if they influence the current concentrations and trends.

Source: Zananski, T. J., T. M. Holsen, et al. (2011). "Mercury temporal trends in top predator fish of the Laurentian Great Lakes." Ecotoxicology 2011 Jul 27. [Epub ahead of print].

The following recent publications are also of interest, but the abstracts are not reprinted here due to copyright restrictions:

Selenium uptake and speciation in wild and caged fish downstream of a metal mining and milling discharge.
Phibbs, J., C. I. Wiramanaden, et al. (2011). Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 74(5): 1139-1150.

Concentrations of Mercury and Other Toxic Elements in Orange Roughy, Hoplostethus atlanticus, from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Julshamn, K. and I. M. B. Tyssebotn (2011). Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 87(1): 70-73.

Evaluating Microcystin Exposure Risk through Fish Consumption.
Poste, A., R. E. Hecky, et al. (2011). Environmental Science & Technology 45(13): 5806-5811.

Detection of temporal trends of α- and γ-chlordane in Lake Erie fish communities using dynamic linear modeling.
Ekram Azim, M., M. Letchumanan, et al. (2011). Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 74(5): 1107-1121.


Meetings and Conferences

Upcoming
International Society of Exposure Science (ISES) - 21st Annual Meeting
October 23-27, 2011 Baltimore, Maryland
http://ises2011.memberclicks.net Exit EPA Disclaimer
14th World Lake Conference
October 31-November 4, 2011 Austin, Texas
http://www.wlc14.orgExit EPA Disclaimer
The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America 32nd Annual Meeting
November 13-17 2011, Boston, Massachusetts
http://boston.setac.orgExit EPA Disclaimer
Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting
December 4-7, 2011 Charleston, South Carolina
http://www.sra.org/events_2011_meeting.phpExit EPA Disclaimer

For More Information

Please email the newsletter (Fish_Advisory@epa.gov) if you would like to announce an upcoming meeting, conference, or to submit an article.


Jump to main content.