Let's be honest: as nice as it is to live in Southern California — and who doesn't enjoy the near daily blazing sun, blue skies and toasty weather — one could hardly credit its "pristine" environment for being a main selling point. As if the thick layer of smog blanketing Los Angeles wasn't bad enough, the beaches in L.A. County — though popular spots for the locals and tourists — are some of the most polluted in California. In fact, beach closures and advisories last year barely fell short of the record number set in 2005 (check out NRDC's full report here). Most of these problems are caused by urban runoff, sewage water and untreated water from waste water treatment plants.
Given the sorry state of its beaches, it didn't come as much of a surprise then when a recent joint study by the EPA and the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program found concentrations of DDT and PCBs in fish off the California coast near Los Angeles to be excessively high. DDT, a probable carcinogen, has been linked to disorders of the reproductive and nervous systems while PCBs have been known to cause a swathe of adverse health conditions affecting the immune, nervous and reproductive systems. The chemicals find their way into the fish after being dumped into the waters by surrounding industries. The last large-scale survey of contaminant levels in fish was conducted more than 15 years ago, according to EPA division director Keith Takata. State and federal biologists gathered over 2,500 fish from 30 sites along the Southern California coast between 2002 and 2004, targeting 23 commonly caught recreational fish — including the bass, surfperch, mackerel and white croaker. The results will be used by several agencies to establish new regulations and safety guidelines to caution people about the possible health risks incurred by eating fish in the area.
DDT and PCB concentrations were found to be much higher in fish living in areas with contaminated sediments — particularly the white croaker. Mercury levels exhibited more variation — with higher levels found in older fish and those higher up in the food chain. Though they will soon be revised, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's fish consumption advisories for ocean waters in the region can found here.
See also: ::One in Every Four New Yorkers Has Elevated Blood Mercury Levels, ::Want Good Fish? Think Salmon., ::South Indian Fish Stocks Threatened by Climate Change, Human Development
Image courtesy of zsaezsaespeck via flickr