Nothing really new but stronger confirmation that nothing is improving.
For immediate release: October 26, 2006 (06-172)
Contacts: Jeff Smith, Communications Office 360-236-4072
Deanna Mill, Communications Office 360-236-4022
New health advice on eating Puget Sound fish
Making smart choices maximizes benefits and minimizes health concerns
OLYMPIA ��� Fish are an important part of a healthy diet, but some types should be eaten in moderation. A new assessment by the Department of Health confirmed that most Puget Sound salmon are low in contaminants; however, Chinook and some others species of fish have higher levels of mercury and PCBs.
The health department recently completed a study of toxics in Puget Sound fish using data from the Puget Sound Assessment and Monitoring Program. The department also sampled fish found in markets across the state. Overall, many fish are low in contaminants, but meal limits are recommended for some.
���Many fish from Puget Sound remain a smart choice for the dinner table; however, this news is another sign that Puget Sound is sick and we must take action now,��� said Governor Chris Gregoire. ���The Puget Sound Partnership is tackling this challenge head on.���
The main contaminants of concern are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury. These contaminants move through the food chain into fish, marine mammals and humans. Mercury and PCBs can cause behavior and learning deficits in children exposed in the womb, so meal limits of certain fish are especially important for women of child-bearing age and young children.
Consumers should limit Chinook salmon to one meal per week and resident Chinook (blackmouth) to two meals per month. Consumption advice for flatfish (e.g. English sole, flounder, and sanddab) and rockfish is organized by Fish and Wildlife���s recreational marine areas with more specific advice provided for some urban areas.
���Fish, particularly salmon, are good to eat ��� including those from Puget Sound,��� said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. ���The high protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids make fish a healthy choice. However, some fish accumulate more toxics than others so we want people to be smart and choose wisely.���
The Healthy Fish Eating Guide, created by the department, includes a list of fish low in toxics as well as those that should be eaten less frequently. It���s a reference that will help people make sure that fish remains part of a healthy diet. The guide (www.doh.wa.gov./fish) shows many fish commonly available in markets that can be eaten two times a week in accordance with recommendations from the American Heart Association.
PCBs, mercury and other long-lasting chemicals are found worldwide. While this study shows these toxics in Puget Sound fish, chemicals in the environment remain a broader problem. The health department and the Department of Ecology are working on strategies to reduce chemicals like PCBs and mercury in the environment.
Banned since 1977, PCBs were an insulating fluid in electrical transformers. Mercury occurs naturally but also comes from coal-fired electric plants and improper disposal of fluorescent bulbs, thermometers, thermostats and electrical switches.
Editor���s note: Rob Duff, director for the Office of Environmental Assessments at the Department of Health will be in Seattle Thursday, Oct. 26. To arrange an interview, contact Jeff Smith, Communications Office, 360-236-4072.
Sandy Howard, Washington State Department of Ecology, 360-407-6239
Margaret Ainscough, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, 360-902-2408
Brad Ack, Puget Sound Action Team, 360-725-5437