uPBDEs: Flame Retardants
PBDEs, a common flame retardant, have been detected in various fish across the West Coast in the United States. A 2006 report from the Environmental Working Group uncovered the flame retardant in Washington rivers and lakes. From 1997 to 2003, levels of PBDEs (prolybrominated diphenyl ethers) doubled in San Francisco Bay fish, such as striped bass and halibut. PBDEs are often used in electronics, furniture, carpets and textiles. The chemicals are traceable in rivers, estuaries, oceans, house dust and water.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)
While PCBs were outlawed from manufacturing in 1977, PCBs continue to reside in the nation’s waters. They collect in sediments at the bottoms of rivers, lakes, streams and along coastlines. These highly toxic persistent organic pollutants infiltrate water systems and contaminate wild fish populations accumulating in the fatty tissue of the fish. The industrial chemical is also found in farmed fish.Striped bass, sturgeon, and shad are all fishes with dangerous traces of PCBs.
High levels of chlorinated dioxins, an industrial chemical and known carcinogen, are often detected in wild and farmed fish populations and in most animal based proteins in the average American diet: eggs, milk, butter, turkey, beef and pork. The Environmental Defense Fund advises limiting the intake of farmed or Atlantic salmon because of the elevated dioxin rate.
DDT, one of the most infamous pesticides, has infiltrated the aquatic food chain, impacting most fish, crayfish, and shrimp populations. In 1952, the United States Department of Agriculture celebrated the use of DDT because of its "cost, ease of handling, safety to humans, effectiveness in destroying the pest, and safety to wildlife." In 1974, DDT was banned from use by the Environmental Protection Agency, however DDT residue remains
Amongst the chaos of the gulf oil spill recovery, one "solution" for contamination detection has been the smell test. With fishing permitted again in Louisiana, fishermen have begun to catch redfish, speckled trout and mullet. Oysters and blue crabs remain off-limits.
Coal ash combustion wastewater does not only disperse mercury but also arsenic, which causes detrimental harm to the environment, fish health, and a variety of human health problems such as liver poisoning, and liver and bladder cancers. With low water levels, arsenic levels rise as occurred in 2007 in Okeechobee, Florida (pictured).
In 2008, China’s reputation as the world’s largest fish importer was tarnished by one chemical: melamine. Melamine was often added to fish feed. This industrial chemical is also famous for tainting infant formula. Last month, the United Nations set a maximum level of melamine contamination in the world’s food and infant formula.