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​Is There Something Fishy Going On In Our Rivers?

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 7, 2007 - Experts from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health will host a special session on Contaminants in Freshwater Fish: Toxicity, Sources and Risk Communication at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The session will take place 8:30 to10 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Highlights of the session include:

Store-Bought Freshwater Fish Contain More Pollutants than Fish Caught Near Former Industrial Sites  

White bass wild-caught and sold commercially contained significantly higher levels of mercury, arsenic and selenium than fish caught near former industrial areas. According to study results, mercury levels were 2.2 to 4.8 times higher in fish caught in the Canadian Lake Erie and available commercially than in fish caught near former iron and steel mills on the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in Pittsburgh. In addition to higher levels of mercury, the store-bought fish had levels that were 1.7 times higher for arsenic and 1.9 times higher for selenium.

Abstract number 161184.

Extracts of Catfish Caught in Polluted Waters Cause Breast Cancer Cells to Multiply

Exposing estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells to extracts of channel catfish caught in areas with heavy sewer and industrial waste causes the cells to multiply. The study, which tested extracts from fish caught in the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers near Pittsburgh, suggests that the fish contain substances that mimic the actions of estrogen, the female hormone. Since fish are sentinels of the environment, as the canary in the coal mine is a sentinel of air pollution, and can concentrate chemicals from their habitats within their bodies, these results suggest that pharmaceutical estrogens and chemicals that mimic estrogens may be making their way into the regions waterways.

Abstract number 159141.

Higher-Than-Recommended Levels of Mercury and Elevated Selenium Found in Channel Catfish Caught Downwind from Coal-Fired Power Plant

Emissions from coal-fired power plants may be an important source of water pollution and fish contamination. Study researchers found higher than Environmental Protection Agency-recommended levels of mercury and elevated levels of selenium in channel catfish caught in a rural area upstream of Pittsburgh and downwind from a coal-fired power plant. Based on testing of 63 fish, they found that fish caught near the power plant had 19 times more mercury than store-bought fish.

Abstract number 157770.


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