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Assessment of legacy and emerging contaminants in an introduced catfish and implications for the fishery

Luellen, Drew R., LaGuardia, Mark J., Tuckey, Troy D., Fabrizio, Mary C., Rice, Gary W., Hale, Robert C.
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.28 pp. 28355-28366
DDT (pesticide), Ictalurus furcatus, United States Environmental Protection Agency, air, catfish, diet, exposure pathways, fillets, fisheries, hexachlorobenzene, human population, humans, indigenous species, mercury, mirex, nitrogen, omnivores, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, population density, risk, rivers, stable isotopes, wastewater, watersheds, Chesapeake Bay, District of Columbia, Potomac River, Virginia
Since introduction into the Chesapeake Bay watershed in the 1970s, blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) populations have increased, impacting native species. One strategy suggested to limit their growing numbers is to expand the existing commercial fishery. However, the promotion of human consumption of this large, omnivorous fish may increase exposure to contaminants of concern (COC). However, there are few published data on contaminants in blue catfish. To evaluate this possibility, we measured COC (PCBs, PBDEs, OCs, Hg) in individual fillets and compared levels to established consumption advisory limits. James River (near Richmond, Virginia) and Upper Potomac River (downstream of Washington DC) fish exhibited higher burdens of most COC than those from the lower James and rural Rappahannock rivers. Fish sex and δ¹⁵N values (surrogate for trophic position) did not correlate with COC concentrations. Potomac River fish exhibited greatest δ¹⁵N, perhaps related to local wastewater inputs. Despite differences in human population densities among watersheds, fish mercury (Hg) levels were similar. Most fillets surpassed US EPA advisory limits for unrestricted consumption (> 16 meals/month) for Hg and PCBs. Hg and PCB advisories in the region typically restrict consumption to two 220 g meals/month. Hence, individuals who rely on fish for a large portion of their diet may be exposed to unacceptable Hg and PCB concentrations. COC levels typically increased with fish length; in particular, fish > 550 mm often exceeded unrestricted consumption limits for chlordanes and DDTs. PBDEs, pentachloroanisole, hexachlorobenzene, and mirex levels were generally below established advisories. However, because fish advisories are based on the expected consequences from single contaminants and a single or limited number of toxicological endpoints, consumers face greater risks due to cumulative effects from all coincident COCs, as well as additional exposure pathways, such as other food and air. The additional data on contaminant levels reported here will increase the accuracy of forecasted risks. However, it also illustrates the complexity in communicating the risks from multi-contaminant exposure.