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Water: Fish Tissue Studies

Fish Tissue Studies

Since 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Science and Technology (OST) within the Office of Water (OW) has been collaborating with various EPA programs and other partners to conduct a series of freshwater fish contamination studies. These studies are providing nationally representative data on concentrations of a large number of chemicals in fish tissue to support critical agency missions related to water and air quality.

National Study of Chemical Residues in Lake Fish Tissue
The National Study of Chemical Residues in Lake Fish Tissue is the first statistically based freshwater fish contamination study to be conducted in the U.S. on a national level, and the study provided data on fillet and whole body tissue concentrations for the largest set of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals ever studied in fish. EPA began planning this study in 1998 and published study results for conventional pollutants (e.g., mercury, PCBs, pesticides, dioxins, etc.) in 2009.

Pilot Study of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) in Fish Tissue
Pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) are a diverse group of chemicals that have recently been identified as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). EPA initiated the Pilot Study of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) in Fish Tissue during 2006 to investigate the occurrence of PPCP chemicals in fish tissue at several stream locations across the country where these chemicals were more likely to be detected. EPA partnered with Baylor University in Waco, Texas to analyze the fish samples and develop a journal article to report the study results, which was published in 2009.

National Rivers and Streams Assessment Fish Tissue Study (PDF) (124 pp, 13MB, About PDF)
In 2008, EPA’s Office of Water launched the National Rivers and Streams Assessment (NRSA), which included a national study of contaminants in the fillet tissue of fish collected from randomly selected sampling locations in the Nation’s rivers. EPA anticipates having fish tissue results available to report during 2014.

National Coastal Condition Assessment Great Lakes Human Health Fish Tissue Study
EPA’s Office of Water, Great Lakes National Program Office, and Office of Research and Development are collaborating to conduct the first statistically based study of fish contamination in the Great Lakes under the agency’s National Coastal Condition Assessment (NCCA). EPA initiated the Great Lakes Human Health Fish Tissue Study in 2010 and expects to report study results in late 2015.

Contaminants of Emerging Concern
EPA is exploring the occurrence and levels of chemicals in fish for which the risk to human health and the environment is unknown. These contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) include pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

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