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Environmental Contaminants in Fish and Shellfish from Unmanaged Inland UK Waterways
Project Code: C01041
Central Science Laboratory
Rose, M ; Fernandes, A
Fish can bioaccumulate environmental contaminants and contribute significantly to dietary exposure to these chemicals. Pollution in rivers, canals and lakes has less opportunity for dilution and dispersion than marine pollution so freshwater fish may be exposed to higher concentrations of individual contaminants. This study examined the consumption habits of recreational anglers and characterised a range of existing and emerging contaminants in freshwater fish species to assess the possible risk to anglers who consume their catch.
The project was conducted in three parts, firstly a study to identify potentially contaminated freshwater systems across the UK, secondly a survey conducted among recreational fishermen on the species of fish caught in unmanaged freshwater and which of them are consumed. Finally, XX specific inland waterways were further investigated. Various species of freshwater fish known to be consumed by anglers were collected and analysed for a range of contaminants.
Levels of heavy metals in all samples were comparable to those commonly observed in fish and indicated no cause for concern. Some samples exceeded dioxin limits for fish sold commercially. The highest level of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs was 32 ng WHO-TEQ /kg in barbel from the River Don. In all, six samples exceeded the dioxin limit. An dietary exposure estimate shows that regular consumers of some species, especially from the River Don, would exceed the Tolerable Daily Intake for dioxins. Raised concentrations of other organic contaminants were also found but these are not considered to be of concern.
Although this was a relatively limited study, the results confirm the occurrence of a wide range of environmental contaminants in freshwater fish species , with the potential for significant localised effects. . The Environment Agency has imposed restrictions on removing coarse fish from inland waterways. The results of this project suggest that consumption of such fish might be unwise.
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