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Higher levels of pollutants found in fish caught near a coal-fired power plant
Date:11/7/2007

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 7 Emissions from coal-fired power plants may be an important source of water pollution and fish contamination, say researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in a study being presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Washington, D.C. The study, abstract number 157770, found higher-than-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-recommended levels of mercury and elevated levels of selenium in channel catfish caught in a rural area upstream of Pittsburgh and downwind from a coal-fired power plant. Both mercury and selenium are well-known contaminants of coal burning for power generation. The results will be presented at a special session on Contaminants in Freshwater Fish: Toxicity, Sources and Risk Communication, at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 7.

To complete the study, researchers recruited local anglers to catch channel catfish from the three rivers area of Pittsburgh and from Kittanning, Pa., an area 40 miles upstream of Pittsburgh. The three rivers area includes the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. Based on testing of 63 fish, they found that Kittanning and three rivers area fish had 19 and 3.1 times more mercury, respectively, than store-bought fish. They also found significantly higher levels of mercury and selenium in the Kittanning-caught fish than in the fish caught in the three rivers area.

Results showed that the risk of developing neurological disorders from ingesting catfish with such high levels of mercury as those caught near Kittanning were eight times higher than the EPAs acceptable risk for children under six years of age; seven times higher for children between seven and 16 years of age; and six times higher for women of child-bearing age. For the general population, this risk was five times higher than the EPAs acceptable risk. The results also indicated to the researchers that fish can be used as bio-sensors to locate and fin
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Contact: Clare Collins
CollCX@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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