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Environ Res. 2008 Jun;107(2):254-63. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2008.01.018. Epub 2008 Apr 18.

Fish consumption and PCB-associated health risks in recreational fishermen on the James River, Virginia.

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  • 1Division of Population Studies and Surveillance, Cancer Care Ontario, 620 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Consumption of sport-caught fish contaminated with high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may pose human health risks. To obtain estimates of fish consumption and fishing behaviors in recreational fishermen in Virginia, on-site interviews (n=143; 134 men and 9 women) were conducted at seven public boat landings along the James River. Using existing PCB concentration data from James River fish tissue samples collected from 1997, and 1999 to 2001, default and point estimates were calculated and Monte Carlo analyses conducted to estimate potential risks under different consumption scenarios. A mean of 55 fish meals/yr and 14 James River sport-caught fish (JRSCF) meals/yr were reported. Caucasians fished less often (mean of 58 d), consumed less fish (mean of 43 meals/yr) and had smaller portion sizes (mean of 11.7 oz) compared to other races combined (130 d; 82 meals/yr; and 15.6 oz). On average, respondents reported consuming 10 meals of James River catfish a year (5 kg/yr). Risk estimates produced from Monte Carlo analysis were consistently lower than the default and point estimates. Several individuals exceeded acceptable risk levels and the mean cancer and non-cancer risks among catfish consumers exceeded acceptable levels. Eighteen percent of individuals had no knowledge of fish advisories in Virginia and 4% of the subjects indicated they would consume fish under advisory. Based on reported consumption, a significant risk to recreational fishermen, as a result of consuming PCB-contaminated catfish, was found. Risks associated with consuming other species were within acceptable limits.

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