7.2
HEALTH IMPLICATIONS OF PCBS AND OTHER CONTAMINANTS IN GREAT LAKES BASIN WATERS
F
amounts of Great Lakes fish (Johnson et al. 1998;  ATSDR
or over three decades, PCBs and other persistent
7.1
2000;  Schantz et al. 2001).  Children whose mothers
toxic substances have been a central concern under
consumed a few meals per month of Great Lakes fish have
the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  As part of
7.2
neurobehavioral and learning deficits associated with PCB
its responsibilities to inform the IJC of ongoing advances in
exposure (Lonky et al. 1996;  Jacobson and Jacobson,
this area of science, the Work Group on Ecosystem Health
1996; Darvill et al. 2000; Stewart et al. 2002).  Other health
prepared the following update, particularly stimulated by
concerns include effects on the endocrine and immune
recent publications in Environmental Health Perspectives
systems as well as increased risk of cancer (ATSDR 2000).
that were noted by the SAB:
Body burdens of PCBs and other persistent organic
chemicals of Great Lakes fish consumers are from two to
Comparison of Polychlorinated Biphenyl Levels across
four times those of the general U.S. population (Anderson
Studies of Human Neurodevelopment (Longnecker et
1998; Hanrahan et al. 1999; Shantz et al. 1996, 1999).  In
al. 2003);
order to achieve state and federal public health criteria,
Increased Concentrations of Ploychlorinated Biphe-
PCB levels in Great Lakes area waters and fish (open waters
nyls, Hexachlorobenzene and Chlordanes in Mothers
and certain tributaries) need to be decreased by one to
to Men with Testicular Cancer (Hardell et al. 2002);
three orders in magnitude.
Effects of PCB Exposure on Neuropsychological
Function in Children (Schantz et al. 2003); and
Extensive PCB based fish consumption advisories exist on
A Longitudinal Examination of Factors Related to
each Great Lake and many connecting waters (U.S. EPA
Changes in Serum Polychlorinated Biphenyl Levels
2002a).  Some fish advisories are due to dioxin (MDCH
(Tee et al. 2003).
2002).  All Great Lakes state health departments use a
criterion of 0.05 ppm PCB in fish fillets to establish fish
advisories (U.S. EPA 2002).  Fish may be consumed without
7.2.1
Concerns Regarding Persistent Toxic
restrictions below the 0.05 ppm PCB and, as levels rise
Chemicals
above the criterion, persons are to restrict fish consump-
tion from “one meal” of fish per week to “do not eat any
Regulatory actions by the U.S. and Canada have led to
meals” of fish (GLSFATF 1993).
significant reductions in PCBs and other toxic chemicals
found in fish (U.S. EPA 2003a; 2003b). However, in recent
In Lake Michigan, large lake trout greater than 26 inches
years, the annual PCB decline has slowed considerably, and
long have PCBs 40 times state health advisory criteria, while
debate continues whether the PCB declines are continuing,
coho salmon average about 10 times the advisory criteria
following a first-order decay curve, or if a steady-state
(MDCH 2002, MDEQ 2003; WDH/WDNR 2002).  The states
concentration is being approached.  Firm conclusions are
of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan advise all
difficult to draw because of variability in the available data
persons not to consume any meals of large lake trout (U.S.
and a number of confounding factors such as changes in
EPA 2002).  Women of child bearing age and children under
the foodweb dynamics caused by the introduction of
15 are to limit consumption of coho salmon to one meal
invasive species.
per month in Michigan, while the other states provide this
advice to all persons (MDCH 2002; U.S. EPA 2002; WDH/
The current levels of PCBs in fish still pose significant
WDNR 2002).  Lake Michigan whitefish greater than 14
health risks to persons who consume moderate to high
inches long north of Frankfort are not be consumed in any
amount by anyone due to PCB and dioxin contamination
(MDCH 2002).
In Lake Michigan, large lake trout greater than 26
inches  long  have  PCBs  40  times  state  health
In Lake Superior, considered the cleanest of the Great
Lakes, ciscoes greater than 26 inches long are not to be
advisory criteria, while coho salmon average about
eaten by anyone due to high levels of PCB and dioxin
10 times the advisory criteria
(MDCH 2002; Day 2003).  Women and children are to
consume no more than one meal per month of Lake
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