Coastal fish contaminated

Study finds methylmercury, PCBs in California sport fish

A two-year study of sport fish off the north and central California coast has found methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination to be a significant concern.

The study, conducted between 2009 and 2010 by the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program, analyzed 46 indicator species such as lingcod, rockfish and kelp bass, from 68 locations, according to an SWRCB press release. Researchers found 63 percent of the locations contained fish with low or moderate methylmercury contamination levels, while 37 percent had at least one species in a high-contamination category. Fifty-nine percent of the locations tested had a moderate degree of PCB contamination, with 7 percent in a high-contamination category.

Sport fish were of particular concern due to the likelihood of human exposure—methylmercury consumption can affect nervous-system function in children and potentially lead to learning disabilities, while PCB has been linked to cancer, liver damage, and altered development and reproductive function.