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Release Date: 06/25/2002
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Environmental News



Robin Woods 202-564-7841/

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman said today that new data from
states demonstrate many are doing a better job of warning the public about potential health risks associated with consuming recreationally caught fish.

"Today I am commending the states for increasing their efforts in this very important public health initiative," said Whitman. "Although fish are a healthy part of our diet and fishing is an all-American recreational pastime, some individuals, such as pregnant women and small children, may need to limit their intake of certain noncommercial fish.

“We are continuing to reach out to communities by helping the states issue fish consumption advisories," said Whitman.

A listing of the Year 2001 National Listing of Fish and Wildlife Advisories is now on the EPA website at: The 2001 listing includes advisories in 49 states, the District of Columbia and America Samoa.

Whitman also announced the release of a special edition of the "Should I Eat the Fish I Catch?" brochure in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Whitman reported that the EPA and the U.S. Public Health Service completed a distribution of outreach materials to about 200,000 health care providers throughout the country, to alert their patients to possible contaminants in noncommercial fish that may pose health risks.

States can issue one or several types of fish advisories. For example, some advisories recommend no or limited consumption of some types of recreationally caught fish, while others may recommend certain preparation and cooking methods to reduce risk. An advisory may be targeted to the population at large or to specific groups, such as pregnant women and/or children. It may also be limited to certain sizes or species of fish, or may apply to fish caught in a particular section of a waterway or to all waterways.

Although there are advisories for a total of 39 chemical contaminants, most advisories involved five primary contaminants: mercury, PCBs, dioxins, DDT and chlordane. Last year, the number of advisories increased for PCBs, and DDT and decreased for mercury, dioxins, and chlordane. All of these compounds can accumulate in fish tissues in amounts many times higher than their concentrations in water and are passed up through the food chain.

Almost 75 percent of the advisories have been issued at least in part because of mercury contamination. The 2,618 advisories in the national listing represent approximately 28 percent of the nation's total lake acreage and 14 percent of the nation's total river miles. Approximately 79,119 lakes and 485,205 river miles are under advisory, as well as all of the Great Lakes and their connecting waters.

There are also various advisories in many other nationally important waterways, including Lake Champlain, the Chesapeake Bay watershed (in some of its connecting rivers) and 20 national estuaries. In addition, 28 states have statewide advisories, up five states from 2000.

The number of state-issued advisories issued in 200l (2,6l8) represents a 107 percent increase from the number of advisories active in 1993 (1,266 advisories), the year EPA first compiled an annual list of fish advisories.

Copies and additional information on the brochures, information on state-issued advisories and a summary fact sheet are available at: People who are interested in local advisories also may contact their local health departments.

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