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Release Date: 07/23/97
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EPA has released its l996 summary of state-issued fish advisories. The number of U.S. waterbodies under fish-consumption warnings -- official state advisories to the public to avoid or limit eating fish -- increased by 26 percent over l995, largely as a result of better monitoring and reporting by states.

The number of waterbodies under advisory represents five percent of the
nation’s total river miles and 15 percent of the national total lake acres. As in prior years, 100 percent of the Great Lakes waters and their connecting waters and a large portion of the nation’s coastal waters continue to be under advisory.

Mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, chlordane, dioxins and DDT were responsible for almost 95 percent of all fish consumption advisories in effect in l996, the same five primary contaminants seen every year since l993.

Fish advisories are recommendations to limit consumption of certain species of fish taken from waters where chemical contaminants are present. Each advisory is different: they may recommend no consumption or limited consumption; may be targeted to men, women and/or children; and/or may apply to certain species of fish.

Most of these advisories applied to non-commercial fishing. The typical U.S. consumer eating fish in moderation from a variety of sources and eating a variety of fish species is not believed to be at increased risk. Consumers, however, are urged to heed the advice of state and local health departments concerning local conditions.

The populations with the highest potential of increased risk are those who routinely eat freshwater fish from a single location or region that is known to be impacted by contamination. The fetuses of pregnant women are believed to be the most sensitive to the adverse effects of the five primary contaminants that cause advisories. Other groups at potentially higher risk because they consume large quantities of fish include some native Americans, some segments of the Asian-American community and other individuals who rely on fishing for food for their families.

The general public can call state government agencies, in most cases the state health department, for specific state fish and wildlife advisory information.

There is no written list or report summarizing the national listing of fish advisories. A written five-page fact sheet is available. The full national listing is available to the public free of charge on 10 computer (PC-based, 3.5 inch) diskettes (ordering number EPA-823-C-97-004) and CD-ROM (ordering number EPA-823-C-97-005).

The information contained in the database can be used to generate maps for specific geographic locations. The user also will find information on each body of water for which an advisory has been issued; the type of advisory, such as restricted consumption or bans; fish species and chemicals; population segments affected; and state government agency contacts and phone numbers.

For copies of the fact sheet and/or the diskettes or CD-ROM, the general public can call or write EPA: U.S. EPA, National Center for Environmental Publications and Information, 11029 Kenwood Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242; phone: 513-489-8190; fax: 513-489-8695.

In addition, the database is available for downloading from the Internet at:

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