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NOAA reports coastal waters show decline in contaminants
Date:5/12/2008

NOAA scientists today released a 20-year study showing that environmental laws enacted in the 1970s are having a positive effect on reducing overall contaminant levels in coastal waters of the U.S. However, the report points to continuing concerns with elevated levels of metals and organic contaminants found near urban and industrial areas of the coasts.

Its interesting to note that pesticides, such as DDT, and industrial chemicals, such as PCBs, show significant decreasing trends around the nation, but similar trends were not found for trace metals, said Gunnar Lauenstein, manager of the NOAA Mussel Watch program. "What is of concern is that there are contaminants that continue to be problematic, including oil-related compounds from motor vehicles and shipping activities."

The report, NOAA National Status and Trends Mussel Watch Program: An Assessment of Two Decades of Contaminant Monitoring in the Nation's Coastal Zone from 1986-2005, is the first that presents national, regional, and local findings in a quick reference format, suitable for use by policymakers, scientists, resource managers and the public. The findings are the result of monitoring efforts that analyze 140 different chemicals in U.S. coastal and estuarine areas, including the Great Lakes.

"We need to ensure the safety of our coastal waters for the rich resources they provide," says John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator of the National Ocean Service. "This program shows that although our coasts are under tremendous pressure, policymakers and the public are able to work together to produce positive results."

Significant findings from this report include the following:

  • Decreasing trends nationally of the pesticide DDT are documented with a majority of the sites monitored along the Southern California coast.

  • Decreasing trends also were found for the industrial chemicals PCBs. The Hudson-Raritan Estuary, one area of
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Contact: Ben Sherman
ben.sherman@noaa.gov
301-713-3066
NOAA Headquarters
Source:Eurekalert

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