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Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/EHP104

Are Fish Consumption Advisories for the Great Lakes Adequately Protective from Chemical Mixture?

Nilima Gandhi,a Ken G. Drouillard,b George B. Arhonditsis,a Sarah B. Gewurtz,b and Satyendra P. Bhavsara,b,c
Author Affiliations open
aUniversity of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M1C 1A4, Canada; bUniversity of Windsor, 401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, ON, N9B 3P4, Canada; cOntario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Toronto, ON, M9P 3V6, Canada

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  • Background: North American Great Lakes are home to more than 140 types of fish and are famous for recreational and commercial fishing. However, presence of toxic substances has resulted in issuance of fish consumption advisories typically based on the most restrictive contaminant.

    Objectives: We investigate if these advisories, which typically neglect existence of a mixture of chemicals and their possible additive adverse effects, are adequately protective of health of humans consuming fish from the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes.

    Methods: Using recent fish contaminant monitoring data collected by the Government of Ontario, Canada, we simulated advisories using the most restrictive contaminant (one-chem) and multi-contaminant additive effect (multi-chem) approaches. The advisories from the two simulations were compared to examine if there is any deficiency in the currently issued advisories.

    Results: About half of the advisories presently issued are potentially not adequately protective. Of the Great Lakes, the highest percentage of advisories affected would be in Lake Ontario if an additive effect is considered. Many fish, which are popular for consumption such as Walleye, Salmon, Bass and Trout, would have noticeably more stringent advisories.

    Conclusions: Improvements in the advisories may be needed to ensure that the health of humans consuming fish from the Great Lakes is protected. In this region, total PCB and mercury are the major contaminants causing restriction on consuming fish, while dioxins/furans, toxaphene and mirex/photomirex are of a minor concern. Regular monitoring of most organochlorine pesticides and metals in fish can be discontinued.

  • This EHP Advance Publication article has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted for publication. EHP Advance Publication articles are completely citable using the DOI number assigned to the article. This document will be replaced with the copyedited and formatted version as soon as it is available. Through the DOI number used in the citation, you will be able to access this document at each stage of the publication process.

    Citation: Gandhi N, Drouillard KG, Arhonditsis GB, Gewurtz SB, Bhavsar SP. Are Fish Consumption Advisories for the Great Lakes Adequately Protective from Chemical Mixture? Environ Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/EHP104

    Received: 21 March 2016
    Revised: 24 June 2016
    Accepted: 12 July 2016
    Published: 4 October 2016

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