PCB levels lead to warning on bluefish, striped bass

Posted June 03, 2009, at 8:16 p.m.

Maine and six other East Coast states are advising pregnant women and young children to avoid eating striped bass and large bluefish caught recreationally in state waters because of high PCB levels in the migratory fish.

PCBs — polychlorinated biphenyls — are released into the environment from certain coolants, fluorescent lights, hydraulic oils, electrical equipment and other sources. They accumulate in certain species, can affect the endocrine system and brain development, and have been shown to cause cancer in animals.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that pregnant women, women who may get pregnant, nursing mothers and children under 8 should avoid the fish altogether. Everybody else is being warned to limit consumption to four meals a year.

Maine officials say similar advisories are being issued in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

The advisory stems from a multistate report completed in 2008. In addition to the high PCB levels, the study found that bluefish and striped bass contained lower levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in relation to the level of PCBs they contained.

Maine’s previous bluefish and striped bass advisory was issued in 2000, when people were advised to limit consumption to no more than two meals per month.

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