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Trends of PCBS in New Jersey's estuarine and coastal marine environments: a literature review and update of findings.

ABSTRACT: Environmental and biotic surveys of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) periodically conducted in New Jersey waters during the past three decades have revealed persistent and widespread contamination in estuarine and coastal marine systems statewide. Investigations Of PCBs in bottom sediments of the New York-New Jersey Harbor estuary have found elevated concentrations in areas of Newark Bay, Sandy Hook Bay, and the Hudson--Raritan estuary. Contaminated sediments in some areas of upper New York Harbor and Newark Bay have peak values exceeding 2 [micro]g/g dry weight. Elevated PCB concentrations have also been reported in sediments of the Delaware River estuary (up to -1/[micro]/g). While one study has recorded a mean concentration of total PCBs in Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor sediments amounting to 377 ng/g, more recent comprehensive surveys conducted in the system by the National Coastal Assessment Program have yielded much lower contaminant levels, averaging 5.3 ng/g during the 2000 and 2001 sampling periods. Biotic surveys since 1975 have documented consistently highest PCB concentrations (> 2 [micro]g/g wet weight) in the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), striped bass (Morone saxatilis), white perch (Morone americana), and white cash (Ictalurus catus). Among shellfish species, highest PCB levels have been recorded in the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) and American lobster (Homarus americanus), with peak concentrations (> 2 [micro]g/g wet weight) in the hepatopancreas. PCB contamination

offish and shellfish continues to be greatest in the northeast region of the state, as is the case for PCB contamination of bottom sediments, reflecting source inputs from the New York metropolitan area. During the past decade, PCB levels in striped bass and bluefish in northern New Jersey coastal waters have decreased by more than 70% and nearly 40%, respectively. Despite the dramatic decline Of PCB concentrations in these two species, consumption advisories promulgated by the State of New Jersey have become more stringent through time. The most recent (2003) consumption advisories, based strictly on human health risks, are designed to minimize human exposure to PCBs and other chemical contaminants via aquatic food chain pathways.

KEY WORDS: PCBs, contamination, New Jersey, sediments, biota, estuaries, coastal marine waters.

INTRODUCTION

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a suite of hazardous organochlorine compounds, rank among the most serious environmental contaminants worldwide. Environmental and biotic surveys of PCB contamination in estuarine and coastal marine waters of New Jersey have been periodically conducted since the mid-1970s. PCBs are a major concern because they degrade habitats, are potentially harmful to aquatic organisms, and pose a health threat to the seafood-consuming public (Monosson, 1997, 2000; Giesy and Kannan, 1998; National Research Council, 2001; Binelli and Provini, 2003). For example, PCBs have been linked to increased incidence of blood anemia, aberrant immune response, epidermal lesions, and fin erosion in fish populations (Kennish, 1992; Safe, 1994; Duffy et al., 2002). In addition, human reproductive disorders, liver damage, and cancer have been coupled to PCB exposure (Silberhorn et al., 1990; Kennish, 1997, 2001). PCBs are particularly problematic because they bioaccumulate and biomagnify in aquatic food chains and hence attain peak concentrations in lipid-rich predatory organisms occupying upper trophic levels. Many of these organisms are the target of recreational and commercial fishing interests; therefore, they comprise a potentially significant source of PCBs to humans.

This work re-examines and updates PCBs in estuaries and coastal marine waters of New Jersey, focusing on investigations and surveys conducted since the mid-1970s. It assesses PCB contamination levels in environmental (bottom sediments and overlying waters) and biotic media and discusses the sources of this contamination. It also details the biotic monitoring surveys of PCBs conducted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection during the past 25 years, as well as the fish and shellfish consumption advisories that have been issued in recent years to limit exposure of the seafood-consuming public to PCBs and other organochlorine contaminants.

CHARACTERISTICS OF PCBs

Physical-Chemical Properties

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a group of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) derived entirely from anthropogenic sources, include some of the most toxic substances known to occur in aquatic ecosystems. They consist of complex mixtures of chlorobiphenyls in which 1 to 10 chlorine atoms substitute for hydrogen atoms on biphenyl rings, yielding mono-, di-, tri-, tetra-, penta-, hexa-, hepta-, octa-, nona-, and decachlorobiphenyl congener groups. Up to 209 chemical structures or congeners (individual chlorobiphenyls) are possible depending on the arrangement of the chlorine atoms on the biphenyl molecule. The toxicity of PCBs is linked to the chlorobiphenyls present and the chlorine content, which can range from 18% to 79%. Aquatic organisms generally metabolize and excrete the less chlorinated PCBs more readily than they do the higher chlorinated PCBs, which tend to accumulate in tissues.

Production of PCBs in the U.S. spanned nearly 50 years (1929-1977). During this period, an estimated 0.54 billion kilograms of PCBs were produced commercially for use in dielectric fluids of transformers and capacitors, heat exchange and hydraulic fluids, lubricants, fire retardants, plastics, adhesives, paints, caulking compounds, dyes, and other materials (National Research Council, 2001). The wide array of industrial applications of PCBs reflects their unique chemical properties, including thermal and chemical stability, low reactivity, high dielectric constant, nonflammability, and miscibility with organic compounds (Kennish, 1992, 2000). Although production of PCBs was banned in the U.S. more than 25 years ago, a substantial amount of the compounds remain in operating electric equipment, transformers, and other industrial instruments, posing a potentially significant source of environmental contamination. For example, ~49,000 tonnes of PCBs remained in nearly 19,000 transformers as of 1998 (USEPA, 2000a).

Environmental Distribution

PCBs have been present in terrestrial and aquatic environments for more than 50 years, being distributed worldwide via atmospheric and aquatic transport processes. They are extremely stable and persistent in various environmental media--soils, sediments, and waters--and, when bioavailable, are considerably mobile in food webs (Wania and Mackay, 1999). Their hydrophobicity, resistance to degradation, persistence in the environment, affinity for living systems, and toxicity pose a threat to many aquatic organisms. Although lower trophic level organisms such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, and benthic invertebrates accumulate PCBs, the contaminants are not particularly toxic to these biotic groups. Higher trophic level organisms (e.g., fish and mammals) are more susceptible because of the biomagnifying effects of PCBs, especially in organisms whose tissues are lipid-rich. PCBs are lipophilicic, and thus they attain highest residue levels in the tissues of piscivorous fish and marine mammals such as bluefish, striped bass, dolphins, whales, and seals. Finfish and marine mammals obtain most of their PCB body burden through diet. Giesy and Kannan (1998) have noted that the toxicity of PCBs is quite variable and contingent upon an array of factors (e.g., type of PCB mixture, chlorine content, concentration, bioavailability, species of organism, age and sex of organism, route and duration of exposure).

In estuarine and coastal marine environments, PCBs occur in dissolved form, associated with dissolved organic carbon, and sorbed to particulate organic matter and sediments. Organisms can be exposed to PCBs in these environments by contact with contaminated sediment and interstitial waters, as well as via overlying waters and the food chain. Thus, the pathways of bioavailable exposure include particulate, colloidal, and dissolved aquatic phases (Burgess and McKinney, 1999). The more chlorinated PCBs sorb more strongly to particulate matter than do the less chlorinated PCBs, which are more volatile, water soluble, and biodegradable. Because PCBs are highly particle reactive, they attain greatest concentrations in bottom sediments, which serve as a repository as well as a secondary source of the contaminants. Bottom shear stresses, bioturbation, and diffusion in sediment pore water can mobilize PCBs across the sediment-water interface. Currents then often transport the contaminants considerable distances within estuarine and coastal marine waters, resulting in their redistribution in these systems. Volatilization of some dissolved PCBs in the water column also facilitates their movement across the air-seawater interface. These mobilized PCBs may subsequently re-enter aquatic systems via atmospheric deposition.

Wania et al. (1998) demonstrated conclusively that atmospheric deposition is a principal route of entry of PCBs and other POPs into the marine environment. They noted that the processes controlling exchange of POPs across the air-sea water interface are diffusive vapor exchange, precipitation scavenging of vapors and particle-sorbed chemicals, dry deposition with particles, aerosol-vapor partitioning, and partitioning and sedimentation in the water column. Elevated levels of POPs in some remote marine systems have been ascribed to atmospheric transport and deposition.

Chlorobiphenyl concentrations average ~1 ng/[m.sup.3] in the atmosphere. When proceeding from estuarine and coastal marine waters to the open ocean, PCB concentrations in surface waters decrease from ~1-1000 ng/1 to -0.01-150 ng/l. They also decrease with increasing depth in the ocean, peaking in the sea-surface microlayer and declining with increasing depth to ~1.5-1.0 pg/1 at 3500-4000 in depth. Trace amounts of PCBs have even been detected at ocean depths > 5000 m. Higher PCB levels occur in surface waters of the Pacific Ocean (0.04-0.50 ng/1) than in surface waters of the Indian Ocean (0.06-0.25 ng/1) and the North Atlantic Ocean (0.0066-0.21 ng/1) (Tanabe and Tatsukawa, 1986; Schulz et al., 1988; Oliver et al., 1989; Kennish, 199Z 2001).

Highest concentrations of PCBs exist in fine-grained, organically rich bottom sediments of urbanized estuaries, particularly those historically impacted by waste discharges of manufacturing facilities and industrial installations. For example, total PCBs in bottom sediments have exceeded 17,000 ng/g dry weight in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, 8,000 ng/g dry weight in New Bedford Bay, Massachusetts, 1,900 ng/g in Hudson--Raritan Bay, New York, and 475,000 ng/g dry weight in Escambia Bay, Florida (NOAA, 1987; Kennish, 2000, 2001). However, the trend appears to be one of decreasing concentrations of PCBs from peak levels of the 1960s and 1970s (when PCB production and use were greatest) to the present, as clean sediment deposition buries the PCB-contaminated layers to greater depths below the sediment-water interface. Clean sediment overburden mitigates PCB mobilization via advective, diffusive, and microbial processes by acting as a barrier to the release of the contaminants to overlying waters. In addition, as sedimentation buries the contaminated layers below bioturbation mixing depths (-5-15 cm) (Thoms et al., 1995), the mobilization of the PCBs by benthic organism activity is greatly suppressed.

Biotic Uptake

Persistent organic pollutants, such as PCBs, are primarily associated with the particulate or solid phases of environmental media, and thus the principal pathway of biotic uptake is from bottom sediments. The main concern is with PCBs in the upper 10-15 cm of the sediment column and not with those buried at greater depths. Because dredging takes place in nearly all estuarine and coastal systems of New Jersey, there is considerable concern with regard to remobilization of PCBs from these shallow buried sediments. When considering the fate of PCBs in the sediment column, it is important to delineate the depth of the biologically active sediment layer, biodegradation effects, bio-availability, sediment mixing rates, and water-sediment exchange rates (National Research Council, 2001).

Bioaccumulation of PCBs depends on several factors, including the type of species, its age, size, sex, lipid content, and diet, as well as its capability to metabolize the contaminants. Microbial degradation and metabolic transformation of PCBs, as well as deputation (egestion, excretion, and back diffusion) must be considered when assessing the contaminant toxicity. The mixtures of PCBs present are also important because biological and toxicological activity of PCBs is congener specific. Because PCBs biomagnify in estuarine and marine food chains, concentrations of the organochlorine compounds increase by a factor of 10 to 100 times or more from lower to upper trophic levels (i.e., from plankton to fish, birds, and mammals). For example, Wassermann et al. (1979) reported that PCB concentrations in marine zooplankton range from <0.003 to 1.0 [micro]g/g compared to a range of 0.03 to 212 [micro]g/g in fish and seals.

Aquatic organisms exposed to PCBs typically exhibit chronic rather than acute effects. For example, PCBs have been linked to a number of insidious impacts on estuarine and marine organisms (e.g., immunological, reproductive, and neurological abnormalities; digestive disorders; and aberrant behavioral development, wasting disease, population decline) most evident in higher organisms, such as marine mammals (whales, porpoises, seals, and sea lions), which frequently display depressed reproductive potential and other reproductive abnormalities when exposed to elevated contaminant levels (Kennish, 1992, 1997). It is important, therefore, to determine the concentrations of PCBs in aquatic biotic media because biomagnification of PCBs through estuarine and marine food chains can pose a significant health hazard to humans who consume contaminated seafood products. State and federal government health and environmental agencies have recognized the potential health risk of elevated body burdens of PCBs and, when appropriate, have issued fish, shellfish, and wildlife consumption advisories to protect the public.

Safe (1984, 1994), Silberhorn et al. (1990), Kennish (1992, 1997), Barrett (1995), Metcalfe and Haffner (1995), Sindermann (1996), National Research Council (2001), Hutchinson et al. (2003), and Ishaq et al., (2003) have reviewed the environmental and biotic impacts of PCBs. These investigators have shown that aquatic food chains are significant pathways for human exposure to PCBs, and consumption of contaminated fish and shellfish is a major exposure pathway. As stated by the National Research Council (2001, p. 37), "Most of the data on human health effects from exposures to PCBs are based on occupational exposures or consumption of contaminated fish."

Fish and shellfish accumulate PCBs from the surrounding water by absorption through the gills. Greater uptake is likely via ingestion of contaminated sediments and food. Early life stages of fish and shellfish are most sensitive to PCB accumulation. Adverse effects of PCB exposure during early development of fish and shellfish include cardiovascular and circulatory changes, hemorrhages, edema, decreased food intake, wasting syndrome, and increased mortality. Adult fish, in turn, commonly exhibit thyroid hyperplasia (Walker and Petersen, 1991). Laboratory exposure tests have demonstrated the developmental toxicity of PCB congeners and commercial PCB mixtures on early life stages (eggs, embryos, larvae, and juveniles) of fish and shellfish. Field studies have corroborated the results of laboratory research correlating chronic toxicity of PCBs with aberrant development and defective health in fish and shellfish (Walker and Peterson, 1994; Niimi et al., 1996; Walker et al., 1996; Jarvinen and Ankley, 1999; Barnthouse et al., 2003). However, most PCB toxicity data on fish and shellfish derives from controlled laboratory experiments because it is exceedingly difficult to obtain precise PCB toxicity data on early life stages of these organisms in the field.

PCB toxicity depends in large part on the PCB congeners present and their interactions. The higher-molecular-weight congeners bioaccumulate to greater concentrations in fish tissues than do the lower molecular-weight congeners, which are more susceptible to metabolism by enzymes such as microsomal cytochrome P-450s that influence the persistence and toxicity of the congener. Metabolism of the PCBs can increase their toxicity potential, and selective metabolism and excretion of metabolites can enrich or deplete certain PCB congeners at succeeding trophic levels (National Research Council, 2001).

Coplanar congeners which have at least one meta-chlorine and two para-chlorine substituents are particularly important agents in eliciting dioxin-like responses in aquatic organisms (Ahlborg et al., 1994). A key factor is the occurrence of the cellular arylhydrocarbon receptor (AhR) that mediates dioxin-like toxic effects (i.e., hepatotoxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, wasting syndrome, and carcinogenicity). AhR-mediated effects are not universally observed among aquatic biotic groups. For example, lower trophic level organisms (phytoplankton, zooplankton, and benthic invertebrates) do not have cellular An and therefore do not exhibit dioxin-like effects when exposed to PCBs. Nevertheless, some toxic responses are evident in these organisms (McCarty and Secord, 1999). For other biotic groups (i.e., fish, birds, and marine mammals), dioxin-like effects associated with PCB exposure are well chronicled. In fish populations, for example, toxic effects have been correlated with tissue-residue levels of PCB congeners, as well as concentrations of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), a prototypical ligand for the AhR, and TCDD-toxicity equivalents (TEQs), or toxicity equivalence factors (TEF) (Safe, 1990, 1994; Walker and Peterson, 1991; National Research Council, 2001).

NEW JERSEY INVESTIGATIONS

Biota

Periodic investigations of PCBs in fish and shellfish of recreational and commercial importance in New Jersey have revealed ongoing contamination problems. In a recent study, Ashley et al. (2003) examined the bioaccumulated congeneric PCB patterns in American eels and striped bass inhabiting the Delaware and Hudson River estuaries and provided insight into the principal factors modulating PCB uptake in these two species. They made observations on a total of 225 American eels and striped bass from multiple sampling sites. Barnthouse et al. (2003) assessed the effects of PCBs on the reproductive success of striped bass in the Hudson River, using long-term data sets (1976-1997). Limburg (1986) and the USEPA (2000b) documented fish and other biotic studies associated with PCB contamination in the Hudson River.

Total body burdens of PCBs in American eels and striped bass found in the Delaware and Hudson River estuaries depend in large part on their lipid content as well as their habitat use and proximity to the contaminant source (van der Oost et al., 1996; Steinbacher, 2001). The American eel, a species with a limited home range, appears to be a better indicator of local PCB contamination in these systems than does the striped bass, a highly migratory species. Elevated levels of PCBs have been delineated in both species inhabiting the Hudson River. Consumption advisories were issued for these species in the Hudson River in 1976 after more than three decades of heavy industrial discharges of PCBs from two General Electric Company capacitor manufacturing facilities at Fort Edward and Hudson Falls (above the Troy Dam), which led to the release of more than 250 metric tons of the contaminants to the estuary. Although not contaminated by a single large point source of PCBs, the Delaware River estuary has accumulated significant levels of PCBs due to contaminant inputs from multiple sources (i.e., municipal, industrial, and non-point source inputs) over decades of time that have led to consumption guidelines on American eel, striped bass, and other species in certain regions of concern (NJDEP, 2002).

Ashley et al. (2003) reported that total PCBs in American eels from the Hudson River estuary were significantly higher than those in American eels from the Delaware River estuary. For example, American eels collected in the Hudson River had mean t-PCB concentrations ranging from 1800 [+ or -] 1100 ng/g at Athens, New York to 7700 [+ or -] 2000 ng/g at Newburgh, New York. By comparison, American eels from the Delaware River estuary and its tributaries had much lower levels, with t-PCBs ranging from 80 [+ or -] 20 ng/g in fish taken from the Cohansey River (NJ) to 1600 [+ or -] 1000 ng/g in fish taken from the Delaware River at Ft. Mifflin (PA). The fish were relatively uniform in size (mean length = 51 cm), with mean lipid contents ranging from 3% to 14%.

The mean t-PCB concentrations in striped bass from the Hudson River ranged from 650+-500 ng/g at Catskill, New York to 3400 [+ or -] 1600 ng/g at Troy, New York. The mean t-PCBs in striped bass from the Delaware River estuary and its tributaries amounted to 590 [+ or -] 350 ng/g. Somewhat lower mean t-PCBs were recorded in striped bass collected along the Atlantic coast of New Jersey, with mean values ranging from 290 [+ or -] 230 ng/g near Island Beach State Park to 400 [+ or -] 300 ng/g near Cape May. The striped bass were also relatively uniform in size. The mean length was 72 cm, and the mean lipid content ranged from 2% to 7%.

Normalized PCB congeneric patterns were similar for American eels collected in the Delaware River and along New Jersey coastal waters, being dominated by contributions from coeluting congener groups 153 + 132 + 105 and 163 + 138, and to a lesser degree 77 + H0, 180 and 170 + 190. Hudson River collections exhibited a shift in PCB congenic patterns. American eels collected in the lower estuary had greater proportions of heavily chlorinated congeners, whereas American eels residing in the upper estuary contained greater proportions of lesser chlorinated congeners (i.e., di-, tri-, and tetrachlorbiphenyls). Coeluting congeners 31 + 28 dominated fish samples collected in the upper estuary.

Similar normalized PCB congeneric patterns were evident for striped bass samples collected in the Delaware River and along New Jersey coastal waters, with the coeluting congeneric groups 153 + 132 + 105 and 163 + 138 predominating. Striped bass which resided for greater periods of time in the lower Hudson River estuary were dominated by more heavily chlorinated congeners, and those occupying the upper Hudson River estuary had a greater proportion of less chlorinated congeners (i.e., di-, tri-, and tetrachlorbiphenyls). Again, coeluting congeners 31 + 28 dominated fish samples collected in the upper estuary. Thus, the congeneric patterns observed in striped bass were similar to those discerned in American eels.

Although Monosson (1997) and the USEPA (2000c) concluded that striped bass populations in the Hudson River have been exposed to PCB concentrations high enough to cause adverse effects, Barnthouse et al. (2003) reported no detectable changes in population parameters of Hudson River striped bass. In particular, Barnthouse et al. (2003) found no relationships between any measure of striped bass abundance or reproduction and PCB exposure. Rather, they attributed trends in all measures of Hudson River striped bass abundance and reproductive success during the past two decades to administrative restrictions placed on striped bass harvest. In addition to the population changes ascribed to fishery management practices, density-dependent population regulatory mechanisms (e.g., competition for limited food resources) might be a major factor that regulates year-class production of Hudson River striped bass and enables the population to offset any reductions in reproductive output caused by exposure to PCBs. This work indicates that additional research is needed in the field to more effectively assess population-level responses of striped bass to PCB exposure.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) completed four major biotic monitoring surveys between 1975 and 1991: (1) 1975-1980 (Belton et al., 1982); (2) 1981-1982 (Belton et al., 1983); (3) 1986-1987 (Hauge et al., 1990); and (4) 1988-1991 (Hauge et al., 1993). These NJDEP surveys focused on bioaccumulation of isomers exclusively found in Aroclors 1248, 1254, and 1260. Up to 50% of the shellfish and 75% of the finfish samples collected in estuarine and coastal marine waters of New Jersey and analyzed for Aroclor 1254 during the 1975-1980 survey period contained detectable levels of PCBs (Belton et al., 1982). In this survey, six fish species (i.e., American eel, Anguilla rostrata; bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix; striped bass, Morone saxatilis; Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrhynchus; white perch, Morone americana; and white catfish, Ictalurus catus) had elevated PCB levels that approached or exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration action level of 2 [micro]g/g wet weight (Table 1) (Belton et al., 1982). Belton et al. (1983) reported persistent elevated PCB measurements (> 1 or 2 [micro]g/g) in American eel, bluefish, striped bass, white catfish, and white perch collected in the northeast region of the state during 1981 and 1982. Belton et al. (1985) later documented mean PCB values greater than 3 [mirco]g/g in samples of these species (Table 2). Thus, the reports of Belton et al. (1982, 1983) initially revealed potentially serious PCB bioaccumulation problems in a number of recreationally important New Jersey finfish. Although PCB residues were found in fish collected statewide, the highest concentrations occurred in lipid-rich species taken from the inner New York Bight and Hudson-Raritan estuary. Based on this work, the State of New Jersey issued its first consumption advisories and fishing prohibitions in December 1982 for six finfish and one shellfish species (i.e., American eel, bluefish, channel catfish, striped bass, white perch, white catfish, and blue crabs) due to PCB contamination.

Concerns raised by the PCB biotic surveys of 1975-1980 and 1981-1982 also fostered more comprehensive investigations during the late 1980s and early 1990s. While sampling during the early PCB biotic surveys concentrated on urbanized waters of the Hudson--Raritan estuary and contiguous waters of the inner New York Bight, later investigations entailed more widespread and uniform statewide sampling. For example, during the 1986-1991 period, biotic samples were collected at 49 stations in 6 geographic regions of the state: (1) the Delaware region (Delaware River and tributary systems to the Delaware River and Bay); (2) the Camden region (Cooper River, Newton Creek, Pennsauken Creek, and Stewart Lake); (3) the south coast region (estuarine and marine stations from Seaside Park to Cape May and including Delaware Bay); (4) the north coast region (estuarine and marine stations from Seaside Park to Sandy Hook); (5) the northeast region (stations within the Passaic, Hackensack, Raritan, and Hudson river drainages); and (6) the Atlantic region (ocean waters off Barnegat Inlet added for the 1988-1991 survey period to assess bluefish PCB contamination) (Fig. 1).

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Nine finfish species and one shellfish species were analyzed by the NJDEP for PCB bioaccumulation during the 1986-1991 period, including the following forms (see Hauge et al., 1990; Hauge, 1993):

* Three freshwater species (brown bullhead, Ictalurus nebulosus; carp, Cyprinus carpio; and largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides).

* Two species found in both freshwater and estuarine habitats (white catfish, Ictalurus catus; and white perch, Morone americana).

* One anadromous species (striped bass, Morone saxatilis).

* One catadromous species (American eel, Anguilla rostrata).

* Two marine species (bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix; and weakfish, Cynoscion regalis).

* One shellfish species (Callinectes sapidus).

Data collected on PCB contamination in the aforementioned species during the 1986-1987 and 1988-1991 surveys corroborated earlier findings that the northeast region of the state is the most heavily impacted. There were more fish with PCB levels above 2 [micro]g/g in this region than elsewhere in the state. During the 1986-1987 period, PCB levels were highest (mean > 2 [mciro]g/g) for carp, striped bass, white perch, and blue crab (herpatopancreas) in the northeast region. Elevated PCB concentrations were also recorded for the striped bass in the north coast region and the American eel in the Camden region, with both species exhibiting mean PCB levels > 2 [micro]g/g.

Nearly 40 finfish and shellfish samples collected during the 1988-1991 survey had PCB levels above the U.S. Food and Drug Administration action level of 2 [micro]g/g wet weight (Table 3). Most of these samples (n = 23) were collected in the northeast region, with the American eel, carp, and blue crab (herpatopancreas) having the highest mean PCB concentrations. The striped bass (n = 14) and blue crab (n = 9) were the two species accounting for the bulk of the heavily contaminated samples collected statewide.

The PCB biotic problems observed in the northeast region of the state are ascribable to multiple contaminant sources. Most notable are direct discharges from the Hudson River, tributary loads, bottom sediments in Newark Bay and the New York--New Jersey Harbor estuary, as well as dredged materials and sewage sludge dumped in the New York Bight Apex prior to 1995. The Hudson--Raritan estuary has been an historically impacted system with regard to PCB contamination (Adams et al., 1998).

Additional data on PCB contamination in lipid-rich fish (i.e., bluefish and striped bass) from New Jersey waters (i.e., Newark Bay, Raritan Bay, and contiguous waters in the New York--New Jersey Harbor estuarine system) were collected and analyzed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in 1993 and 1997/1998 (Skinner et al., 1996; Skinner, 2001). Investigators from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Region III also compiled PCB contamination data on fish from the Delaware River estuary during the 1997-1998 period (USEPA, 2002; http://naraxp.nar.epa. gov/maia/html/estuary0.3html). A weakness of many biotic and sediment surveys of contamination in the harbor has been the lack of a statistical basis for the sampling designs, two exceptions being the work of Long et al. (1995) and Adams et al. (1998). Therefore, trend assessment based on the majority of surveys must be viewed with caution.

Sediments

PCBs are widely distributed in estuarine and coastal marine bottom sediments nationwide (NOAA, 1991; Daskalakis and O'Connor, 1995; Kennish, 1997, 2002). Highest concentrations have been reported in fine-grained sediments rich in organic matter. As the concentration of organic matter increases, the sorption capacity and affinity of PCBs for sediment also rises, thereby promoting deposition of the contaminants on the seafloor.

New Jersey has a long history of PCB accumulation in estuarine and coastal marine environments. For example, Brown et al. (1985) reported that large amounts of PCBs discharged into the Hudson River at a rate of 14 kg/day over a 30-year period from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s have not only caused extensive contamination of the river bank and river bed but also areas of the New York--New Jersey Harbor estuary. Consisting largely of industrial mixtures 1242 and 1016, an estimated 288,500 kg of PCBs had accumulated along a 306-km reach of the river bed and bank by 1978. Studies during the 1970s showed a general decline in the concentration of PCBs in bottom sediments downriver (Tofflemire and Quinn, 1977; Bopp et al., 1981), with localized "hot-spot" areas in near surface sediments of the upper Hudson River having PCB levels > 50 [micro]g/g to more than 200 [micro]g/g (Johnson, 1981; Brown et al., 1985). In Raritan Bay, PCB levels in bottom sediments at this time ranged from ~3 to more than 2,000 [micro]g/g and averaged -100 ng/g (Stainken and Rollwagen, 1979; McCormick et al., 1984). Bopp et al. (1982), using radionuclide tracers to develop chronologies of PCBs in sediment cores from the Hudson River estuary, noted that the peak concentrations of the contaminants occurred during the early 1970s and decreased markedly in more recent years. Similar chronologies of PCB contamination have been reported for other estuaries in the region such as Jamaica Bay, New York (Bopp et al., 1993).

Feng et al. (1998) collected more recent data (1994-1996) on the distribution of total PCBs in surficial bottom sediments (< 3 cm) along the length of the Hudson River estuary. Highest concentrations (~1.4 [micro]g/g) were recorded at upriver sampling sites 70-80 km north of New York City, with a generally decreasing trend in concentrations down-estuary. However, a secondary increase in total PCBs approaching 1.0 [micro]g/g in New York Harbor probably reflects local urban inputs (e.g., wastewater effluent and urban runoff) (Bopp and Simpson, 1989; Chillrud, 1996). These urban sources appear to contribute more highly chlorinated (i.e., higher molecular weight) congeners than those derived from the upriver sources (Feng et al., 1998). The New York-New Jersey Harbor, therefore, forms a sink for PCBs, trace metals, and other POPs from both upriver and local metropolitan sources, which may deliver roughly equal amounts of the contaminants to the bottom sediment pool (Bopp and Simpsons, 1989).

Long et al. (1995), investigating sediment toxicity in the New York--New Jersey Harbor estuary during the early 1990s, reported that total PCBs (sum of 20 congeners) typically ranged from 100-200 ng/g in bottom sediments of the Hudson-Raritan estuary. Several "hot-spot" sites were found in the Arthur Kill and East River. PCB concentrations up to 1,973 ng/g were documented in the East River. Highest PCB levels were observed in sediments of the upper New York Harbor (2,318 ng/g) and Newark Bay (2,850 ng/g). Adams et al. (1998) found similar results during the 1993-1994 period. They recorded total PCBs (sum of 20 congeners) in the harbor estuary ranging from 0.03-2,482 ng/g with a mean of 205 ng/g. Elevated values were observed at sampling sites in Newark Bay (Elizabeth Ship Channel) (1,435 ng/g), the East River (373-430 ng/g), and Lower Hudson River (403 ng/g), where total PCBs were typically above Effects-Range Median (ERM) levels of Long and Morgan (1991) (Fig. 2). In a follow-up investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on sediment samples collected in this estuarine system during 1998, widespread PCB contamination was also observed (Darvene Adams, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Edison, New Jersey, personal communication)

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

Farther offshore, contaminated wastes of the former dredged material and sewage sludge dumpsites located -5 km and -19 km east of Sandy Hook, respectively, contained PCB levels up to 1.5 [micro]g/g (MacLeod et al., 1981). Dumping of these wastes reached maximum levels during the 1970s and 1980s (sewage sludge > 4 x [10.sup.6] [m.sup.3]/yr; dredged material > 7 x [10.sup.6] [m.sup.3]/yr). Dredged material dumping accounted for ~70% of the total PCB load to the area with sewage sludge dumping responsible for ~30% of the total load (Bopp et al., 1981). Schubel et al. (1982) estimated that ~25% of the PCBs in the dredged material originated from wastewater discharges and < 10% from other estuarine and riverine sources. Inputs from the Hudson River plume and atmospheric deposition to this area have not been adequately quantified. MacLeod et al. (1981) showed that PCB levels decreased from peak levels at the aforementioned dumpsites to ~0.4 ng/g at the outer New York Bight. Use of the sewage sludge dumpsite was terminated at the end of 1987, and the dredged material dumpsite, in 1995. Nevertheless, some organisms have continued to accumulate PCBs in this area. For example, lobsters (Homarus americanus) collected by NOAA in 1994 from the New York Bight Apex had PCB levels in the hepatopancreas that exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration consumption guidelines (> 2 [micro]g/g), suggesting ongoing contamination problems in the apex (NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Sandy Hook, New Jersey; Federal Register, Volume 67, Number 195, p. 62,661).

The Historic Area Remediation Site (lIARS), located ~5.5 km east of Sandy Hook, encompasses the historic Mud Dump Site and surrounding degraded areas. In September 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated that dredged material suitable for remediation (i.e., meets Category I standards) could be placed at HARS (40 CFR 228.15(d)(6) (62 FR 46142)). The objective was to remediate a 23.5-[km.sup.2] impacted area of the New York Bight Apex heavily utilized for recreational fishing activities by capping it with uncontaminated dredged material. A principal function of this remediation material was to remove marine organisms from exposure to elevated levels of PCBs and other contaminants. Bill S-1969, signed by New Jersey Governor James McGreevey on May 4, 2003, lowered the maximum allowable limit of PCBs to 113 ng/g in dredged material used to cap contaminated sediment at HARS to ensure that no significant undesirable effects will result. The PCB limit of 113 ng/g has been established to protect humans against non-cancer effects associated with consumption of seafood products from HARS. It is based on human health risk equations rather than action levels used in previous assessments.

Limited sediment contamination data collected in New Jersey coastal bays indicate potentially significant levels of PCBs. Moser and Bopp (2001) showed that PCB concentrations in recent sediments in the Barnegat Bay--Little Egg Harbor estuary are elevated relative to many other estuaries in the eastern U.S., although they provided no explanation for the possible sources of the contaminants. In particular, the mean concentration of total PCBs associated with sediments of the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor estuary (377 ng/g) is more than 100 times that reported in sediments of the Delaware and Maryland coastal bays (2.9 ng/g) (Chaillou et al., 1996) and more than 50 times that recorded in sediments of the mainstem of Chesapeake Bay (6.4 ng/g) (Eskin et al., 1996). It is also nearly 50 times greater than that documented for an array of estuaries in the Carolinian Province from Virginia to Florida (8.3 ng/g) (Hyland et al., 1996). However, it is only about half of that reported for the New York--New Jersey Harbor estuary (782 ng/g) (Chillrud, 1996), reflecting the greater inputs of PCBs in urbanized systems (Kennish, 1992, 1997).

More recent contaminant data sets collected by the National Coastal Assessment (NCA) Program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the northeastern states reveal much lower concentrations of PCBs for Barnegat Bay than those reported by Moser and Bopp (2001). For example, NCA measures of total PCBs in bottom sediments of Barnegat Bay for the 2000 and 2001 sampling periods average 5.3 ng/g, which is far less than the value of 377 ng/g given by Moser and Bopp (2001). The NCA levels do not appear to be significantly higher than those typically found in estuaries of the northeast region of the U.S.

Sediments in some areas of the Delaware River estuary also contain elevated concentrations of PCBs, with estuary-wide measurements typically ranging from 0 to less than 1 [micro]g/g (Costa and Sauer, 1994). The mean PCB concentrations in sediments of the Delaware River estuary exceed most (75%) of the estuarine sediment values compiled for other U.S. estuaries (Sutton et al., 1996). Frithsen et al. (1995) estimated the total load of PCBs to the estuary at 89 kg/yr. As a result, many organisms in the Delaware River estuary (e.g., American eel, Anguilla rostrata; bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix; striped bass, Morone saxatilis; and osprey, Pandion haliaetus) have exhibited elevated body burdens of these contaminants. Thus, the sediment PCB concentrations often exceed the Effects-Range Low (ER-L) levels of Long and Morgan (1991). Sediment toxicity associated with PCB loading appears to be greater for the upper and middle estuary than for the lower estuary (Sutton et al., 1996).

Elsewhere, PCB levels in estuarine bottom sediments are generally much lower than in the Delaware River estuary. NOAA (1991), for example, determined that the mean total PCB concentration of sediment samples collected at nearly 300 U.S. estuarine and coastal marine sites was 39 ng/g. As is evident from the aforementioned discussion, total PCB concentrations in bottom sediments of New Jersey estuaries commonly exceed those of many estuarine systems nationwide.

Water

Only limited data have been collected on the concentrations of waterborne dissolved PCBs. Brown et al. (1985) revealed that dissolved PCB levels in tidal waters of the Hudson River ranged from ~0.1-0.2 [micro]g/l. However, the levels have dropped in more recent years to ~0.05-0.10 [micro]g/1. Lower dissolved PCB levels are reported for open coastal waters of the New York Bight. Concentrations of dissolved PCBs in impacted waters of the New York Bight Apex amounted to ~0.04 [micro]g/1 in the 1970s (Boehm, 1981). A decrease in waterborne PCB concentrations occurred in New Jersey waters with declining use of PCB compounds and the termination of sewage sludge and dredged material dumping in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively. The concentrations of waterborne PCBs in estuarine and coastal marine surface waters are typically less than 50 ng/1 (Harding, 1986; Fowler, 1990; Kennish, 1997).

DISCUSSION

PCBs are contaminants of concern in New Jersey's estuarine and coastal marine environments despite the reduction of wastewater discharges and termination of sewage-sludge and dredged-material dumping during the past 15 years. This is so because nonpoint source inputs from coastal watersheds, influx from the Hudson River plume, as well as atmospheric deposition continue to deliver these toxic compounds to receiving waters. Although PCB levels have generally declined in environmental and biotic media since the 1980s, they are still elevated in bottom sediments, fish, and shellfish in various areas of the state. However, caution should be exercised in assessing these PCB data, because temporal trends could be confounded by improvements in analytical methods over the past three decades.

Investigations of PCBs in New Jersey waters since the mid-1970s indicate that these halogenated hydrocarbons are widely distributed in bottom sediments of the New York--New Jersey Harbor estuary, New York Bight Apex, and Delaware River estuary. They have also been documented in coastal bays along the central New Jersey coastline, notably in the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor estuary, although at substantially lower concentrations. The northeast region of the state, characterized by heavy urbanization and industrialization, continues to be the most heavily impacted by PCBs. Newark Bay, Sandy Hook Bay, the Hudson--Raritan estuary, and the New York Bight Apex have historically exhibited the highest PCB concentrations in bottom sediments, exceeding 2 [micro]g/g at some locations in the recent past. The PCBs derive from multiple sources, such as tributaries (e.g., upper Hudson River, Passaic River, and Raritan River) (50%), municipal wastewater discharges (22%), combined sewer overflows (10%), stormwater inputs (15%), and atmospheric deposition (3%) (HydroQual, Inc., 1991). Hudson River discharges account for the largest tributary loads. Historical inputs associated with sewage-sludge and dredged-material dumping must also be considered.

There are still persistent widespread occurrences of PCBs in estuarine and coastal marine bottom sediments statewide. The distribution of these organochlorine contaminants is closely linked to their high affinity for line-grained sediments and organic matter. Because of their high affinity for particulate matter, PCBs readily sorb to sediments and subsequently settle to bay bottoms and the coastal seafloor in relatively close proximity to point sources. However, atmospheric transport can disperse PCBs great distances from source areas.

State biotic surveys periodically conducted since 1975 also indicate the persistence of PCB contamination in an array of estuarine and marine fish and shellfish species of recreational importance. The purpose of these surveys has been to assess fish and shellfish bioaccumulation data to determine if they pose a potential health risk to the seafood-consuming public. Fish species which have exhibited consistently highest PCB body burdens (mean values > 3 [micro]g/g) in the state biotic surveys are lipid-rich forms (e.g., American eel, bluefish, and striped bass). PCBs likewise have concentrated to high levels (mean values > 3 [micro]g/g) in blue crab tissues, particularly in the hepatopancreas. Because PCBs biomagnify through aquatic food chains, piscivorous fish species typically show the highest contaminant concentrations, most notably in the northeast region of the state. However, recent data collected by the State of New Jersey indicate marked declines in PCB levels in some fish species and regions, as evidenced by mean PCB levels in striped bass and bluefish of northern coastal waters which decreased by more than 70% and nearly 40%, respectively, compared to levels measured in the 1980s (NJDEP, 2003a).

To limit the exposure of the seafood-consuming public to PCBs and other organochlorine contaminants (e.g., dioxin, DDTs, and chlordane), the State of New Jersey issued consumption advisories, fishing prohibitions, and sales bans on certain species (blue crab, American eel, bluefish, striped bass, white perch, white catfish, and channel catfish) commencing in December 1982. The list of targeted species was subsequently expanded as a result of additional monitoring and research. These protective measures were based on the concentrations of contaminants above U.S. Food and Drug Administration consumption guidelines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration action level for PCBs in tissues of estuarine and coastal marine fish and shellfish species, initially set at 5 [micro]g/g wet weight, was lowered to 2 [micro]g/g wet weight in 1984. In January 2003, new fish consumption advisories for PCB contamination were released based only on human health risks (Table 4). Earlier health advisories were not exclusively health-based (NJDEP, 2003b). The new consumption advisories for New Jersey waters are more stringent than previous advisories, even though data show that PCB concentrations in estuarine and marine fish and shellfish species have declined appreciably during the past decade.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed a four-volume series of documents which provide state governments with guidance for issuing fish consumption advisories. These documents, released between 1993 and 1995, contain information for assessing chemical contaminant data for use in fish advisories (USEPA, 2003). The document series consists of the following works:

Volume 1: Fish Sampling and Analysis

Volume 2: Risk Assessment and Fish Consumption Limits

Volume 3: Overview of Risk Management

Volume 4: Risk Communication

Taken together, these volumes provide valuable information on the process involved in the development of risk-based fish consumption advisories. They consider limits for 25 high-priority chemical contaminants (target analytes) selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the following reasons: (1) their persistence in the environment; (2) occurrence in fish and shellfish; (3) potential for bioaccumulation; (4) and oral toxicity to humans. Some of the information that can be culled from these documents include the toxicological profile of the contaminants, fish consumption patterns, population exposure, risk assessment methods, the calculation of risk-based consumption limits for recreationally important fish and shellfish species, and the management process for the development of the fish advisories.

It is evident that PCB levels in certain recreationally important fish and shellfish species (e.g., American eel, bluefish, striped bass, white perch, blue crab, and American lobster) are at levels that still pose a significant human health risk despite the continued decrease in the contaminant levels in biotic and environmental media of New Jersey waters. Hence, it is essential that all individuals follow the 2003 PCB fish consumption advisories issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. To further reduce the risk of PCB exposure, the seafood-consuming public should follow the proper fish and shellfish cleaning and cooking techniques advanced by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which can reduce PCB levels by ~50% (NJDEP, 2003a). Among the techniques are consumption of only fish fillets, fat stripping (skin, belly flap, and lateral line) of lipid-rich fish species, excising of the hepatopancreas (green gland) in crabs and lobsters, and draining away of fats during the cooking process. High-risk individuals (i.e., pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants, and children) should be particularly vigilant at following the new, more restrictive consumption advisories.

Table 4 shows the fish and shellfish consumption advisories for PCBs as well as dioxin released by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The advisories are presented for both the general population and high-risk individuals. They specify the impacted waters of concern and the targeted species. Estuarine and marine species listed in the advisory are the American eel, bluefish, striped bass, white perch, white catfish, channel catfish, blue crab, and American lobster. The goal is to reduce the risk of PCB contamination to the seafood-consuming public by either having individuals avoid consumption of some of the species from heavily impacted waters or limiting consumption of certain fish and shellfish species as listed in the fish consumption advisories (see Table 4, pages 10-12).

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Estuarine and marine environments represent potentially significant sources of PCB contamination to the human population. In the highly urbanized and industrialized coastal waters of New Jersey, the mobilization of PCBs through aquatic food chains is a justified concern. PCBs have accumulated to relatively high levels in bottom sediments of the New York--New Jersey Harbor estuarine system, the New York Bight Apex, and the Delaware River estuary primarily as a result of deliberate and inadvertent releases to the environment during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In some areas of Newark Bay, Hudson--Raritan estuary, Sandy Hook Bay, and the upper New York-New Jersey Harbor estuary, concentrations of PCBs in bottom sediments exceed 1[micro]g/g dry weight. Bottom sediments in New Jersey coastal bays appear to have similar levels of PCBs compared to other coastal bay systems along the East Coast of the United States.

PCBs assimilated by benthic and nektonic organisms feeding in bottom sediments biomagnify through estuarine and marine food webs, reaching peak levels in predatory fish (e.g., bluefish and striped bass) and mammals (e.g., dolphins, porpoises, whales, and seals). The PCBs concentrate in the lipid-rich tissues of these organisms because they are fat-soluble. Biotic surveys periodically conducted in New Jersey coastal waters since 1975 by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reveal consistently highest PCB concentrations (> 2 [micro]g/g wet weight) in the American eel, bluefish, striped bass, white perch, white catfish, blue crab, and American lobster. The most heavily contaminated fish are found in the northeast region of the state where PCB levels peak in bottom sediments. PCBs in shellfish (American lobster and blue crab) accumulate to highest concentrations in the hepatopancreas (green gland), which should be excised prior to cooking.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has issued a series of public health advisories and guidance on fish and shellfish consumption for recreational fishing since 1982. These advisories and consumption guidelines are intended to limit the exposure of the seafood-consuming public to PCBs, dioxin, and other organochlorine contaminants. Although PCB levels have declined appreciably in estuarine and coastal marine fish and shellfish during the past decade, they still pose a significant health risk to the public. As a result, consumption advisories have become more stringent through time. The new (2003) advisories, based strictly on human health risks, are designed to minimize human exposure to chemical contaminants in New Jersey seafood products. They are most protective of high-risk individuals--pregnant and nursing women, women of childbearing age, infants and children--particularly at risk from exposure to contaminants in seafood.

Widespread occurrences of PCBs continue to be reported in recreationally important fish and shellfish species in estuarine and coastal marine waters of New Jersey. Hence, it is important to continue monitoring the contaminants in both environmental and biotic media. Only by carefully assessing contaminant levels statewide over protracted periods can effective remedial actions be implemented to significantly reduce health risks to the seafood-consuming public. Such actions are necessary to improve environmental conditions in all coastal regions of the state.
Table 1. Concentration of PCBs in fish samples collected by the New
Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in New Jersey waters
during the period 1975-1980. (a,b)

SPECIES N (c) MEAN MEDIAN RANGE

American eel 39 1.52 0.91 0.11-9.5
Atlantic menhaden 9 0.87 0.33 0.17-3.44
Atlantic sturgeon 9 2.35 1.90 0.88-5.25
Bluefish 126 1.23 0.80 0.10-11.0
Mummichog 1 1.28 1.28 1.28
Striped bass 54 2.75 1.58 0.12-31.4
Summer flounder 16 0.60 0.43 0.10-1.47
Weakfish 35 0.56 0.35 0.1-1.94
White catfish 12 2.07 0.90 0.16-10.5
White perch 36 1.86 0.53 0.1-17.9
Winter flounder 4 0.40 0.38 0.25-0.57

(a) Concentrations in [micro]g/g wet weight

(b) Data from Belton et al. (1982)

(c) N = Number of samples analyzed (composite and/or single fish)

Table 2. Fish species showing the highest concentrations of PCBs
recorded in New Jersey waters during the early 1980s. (a,b)

SPECIES MEAN RANGE

American eel 3.30 1.53-7.01
Bluefish 3.45 1.51-5.44
Striped bass 3.49 1.30-9.34
White catfish 4.87 4.26-5.48
White perch 4.87 1.57-9.69

(a) Concentrations in [micro]g/g wet weight

(b) Data from Belton et al. (1985)

Table 3. Concentrations of PCBs in New Jersey fish and shellfish
samples that exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration action
level of 2.0 [micro]g/g during the 1988-1991 period. (a,b)

SPECIES REGION YEAR CONCENTRATION

Blue crab (H-M) (d) Northeast 1988 2.05
Blue crab (H-M) (d) Northeast 1988 2.07
Blue crab (H) (c) Northeast 1988 2.99
Blue crab (H) (c) Northeast 1988 3.52
Blue crab (H) (c) Northeast 1988 2.95
Blue crab (H) (c) Northeast 1988 3.90
Blue crab (H) (c) Northeast 1988 3.69
Blue crab (H) (c) Northeast 1988 2.47
Blue crab (H) (c) Northeast 1988 3.51
American eel Northeast 1988 3.74
American eel Northeast 1988 2.46
American eel Northeast 1988 3.05
American eel Northeast 1988 2.53
Bluefish Northeast 1988 2.81
Bluefish Northeast 1988 2.02
Bluefish North Coast 1988 2.77
Bluefish South Coast 1988 2.17
Bluefish Atlantic 1989 2.25
Bluefish Atlantic 1989 2.15
Striped bass Northeast 1988 2.68
Striped bass Northeast 1988 2.48
Striped bass Northeast 1988 2.00
Striped bass Northeast 1988 2.73
Striped bass Northeast 1988 2.49
Striped bass North Coast 1988 2.35
Striped bass North Coast 1988 2.27
Striped bass North Coast 1989 2.67
Striped bass North Coast 1989 2.08
Striped bass North Coast 1989 2.59
Striped bass North Coast 1989 3.33
Striped bass South Coast 1989 2.52
Striped bass South Coast 1988 2.43
Striped bass South Coast 1989 2.05
Carp Northeast 1988 2.99
Carp Northeast 1988 3.30
Carp Northeast 1988 3.64
Brown bullhead Camden 1988 2.60

(a) Concentrations in [micro]g/g wet weight

(b) Data from Hague (1993)

(c) Hepatopancreas

(d) Hepatopancreas-muscle mixture

Table 4. State of New Jersey 2003 fish consumption advisories for
PCBs and dioxin. List of the recommended fish consumption frequencies
for the general population and high-risk individuals for waters
statewide and for specific water bodies. The advisories have been
generally revised based on PCBs, while in some cases the advisories
have not changed (e.g., advisories based on dioxin). Meal frequencies
that are in italics (e.g., one meal per month) indicate advisories
that are new or revised. The advisories for the general population
are presented as a range of meal frequencies. This range is based on
an estimated 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100,000 risk of cancer during your
lifetime from regularly eating fish at the advisory level. By using
this advisory, a person has the necessary information to make an
informed choice on the number of meals of fish to consume. In this
manner, a person can decide how much risk is acceptable when
considering the consumption of the species listed in the advisory.
The advisory for high-risk individuals includes infants, children,
pregnant women, nursing mothers, and women of childbearing age.
From NJDEP (2003a).

FISH AND CRAB CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES BASED ON PCBs and DIOXIN
CONTAMINATION ADVISORY/PROHIBITION

LOCATION SPECIES

NEW JERSEY STATEWIDE - All Water Bodies (for areas without specific
advisories)

 American lobsters (4)

 American eel

 Bluefish
 (over 6 1bs/24 inches)

 Bluefish#
 (less than 6 lbs/24 inches)

 Striped bass *

Newark Bay Complex (for other species see Statewide advisories) (4)

This complex includes Newark Bay, Blue crab *
Hackensack River downstream of
Oradell Dam, Arthur Kill, Kill Van Striped bass *
Kull, tidal portions of all rivers
and streams that feed into these American eel *
water bodies.
 White perch

 White catfish

Passaic River downstream of Dundee All fish and shellfish *
Dam and streams that feed into
this section of the river. Blue crab *

Hudson River (for other species sec Statewide advisories)

Hudson River includes the river Striped bass *
downstream of NY-NJ border (about
4 miles above Alpine, NJ) and American eel *
Upper New York Bay
 White perch

 White catfish

 Blue crab

Raritan Bay Complex (for other species see Statewide advisories)

This complex includes the New American eel#
Jersey portion of Raritan Bay, the
tidal portions of the Raritan White perch
River (downstream of the Rte. 1
bridge in New Brunswick) and the White catfish
tidal portions of all rivers and
streams that feed into these Blue crab#
water bodies.

Coastal Tributaries (for other species see Statewide advisories)

This area includes the Shark, American eel#
Navesink Shrewsbury, Toms, and
Mullica Rivers

Lower Delaware River, Estuary & Bay (for other species see
Statewide advisories)

Delaware River from Easton, American eel
PA/Phillipshurg, NJ to PA/DE
border, includes all tributaries Striped bass
up to the head of tide
 Channel catfish

Delaware River from DE/PA border All finfish
south to C&D canal

Delaware River from the C&D canal Striped Bass
south to the mouth of Delaware Bay
 Channel catfish

 White catfish

 White perch

Delaware Bay Tributaries American eel#

Other Water Bodies (for other species see Statewide advisories)

Pennsauken Creek@Forked Landing Common Carp
(Camden Co.)
 Largemouth Bass

 Pumpkinseed Sunfish

 White Catfish

Evans Pond (Camden Co.) Brown Bullhead

Cooper River, spillway below Evans Common Carp
Pond (Camden Co.)
 Bluegill Sunfish

Cooper River, @ Hopkins Pond Brown Bullhead
(Camden Co.)

Cooper River Lake (Camden Co.) Largemouth Bass

 Common Carp

 Brown Bullhead

 Bluegill Sunfish

Newton Lake Bluegill Sunfish
(Camden Co.)
 Brown Bullhead

 Largemouth Bass

 Common Carp

Strawbridge Lake Largemouth Bass
(Burlington Co.)
 Bluegill Sunfish

 Common Carp

 Brown Bullhead

Stewart Lake Bluegill Sunfish
(Woodbury) (Gloucester Co.)
 Brown Bullhead

 Largemouth Bass

 Common Carp

Passaic River (Dundee Lake to Redbreast Sunfish
Elmwood Park) (Passaic-Bergen
Co.) ** Brown Bullhead

 Largemouth Bass

 Common Carp

Passaic River @ Pompton River Redbreast Sunfish
(Passaic Co.) **
 Largemouth Bass

 Common Carp

Bound Brook (entire length All fish species
including New Market Pond and
Spring Lake; Somerset Co.)

 ADVISORY/PROHIBITION

 General Population (1,2)
 Range of Recommended Meal
 Frequency

SPECIES Lifetime Cancer Risk
 of 1 in 10,000

 DO NOT EAT
 MORE THAN

American lobsters (4) Do not eat green glands
 (hepatopancreas)

American eel Four meals per year#

Bluefish Four meals per year#
(over 6 1bs/24 inches)

Bluefish# Once a month#
(less than 6 lbs/24 inches)

Striped bass * Once a month#

Blue crab * Do not eat or harvest (5)

Striped bass * Do not eat

American eel * One meal per year#

White perch One meal per year#

White catfish One meal per year#

All fish and shellfish * Do not eat

Blue crab * Do not eat or harvest (5)

Striped bass * Four meals per year#

American eel * One meal per year#

White perch One meal per year#

White catfish Do not eat#

Blue crab Six crabs per week#

 Do not eat green gland
 (hepatopancreas); Discard
 cooking liquid

American eel# One meal per year#

White perch Four meals per year#

White catfish Four meals per year#

Blue crab# Six crabs per week#

 Do not eat green gland
 (hepatopancreas); Discard
 cooking liquid

American eel# Once a month#

American eel Four meals per year#

Striped bass Four meals per year#

Channel catfish One meal every two months

All finfish Do not eat

Striped Bass Four meals per year#

Channel catfish Once a year

White catfish Once a year

White perch Once a year

American eel# One meal per month#

Common Carp Four meals per year#

Largemouth Bass One meal per month#

Pumpkinseed Sunfish One meal per month#

White Catfish One meal per month#

Brown Bullhead One meal per week#

Common Carp One meal per month#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per week#

Brown Bullhead One meal per month#

Largemouth Bass Four meals per year#

Common Carp Four meals per year#

Brown Bullhead One meal per week#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per week#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per week#

Brown Bullhead One meal per week#

Largemouth Bass One meal per month#

Common Carp One meal per month#

Largemouth Bass One meal per month#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per month#

Common Carp Four meals per year#

Brown Bullhead One meal per week#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per week#

Brown Bullhead One meal per week#

Largemouth Bass One meal per week#

Common Carp One meal per month#

Redbreast Sunfish One meal per week#

Brown Bullhead One meal per week#

Largemouth Bass One meal per month#

Common Carp Four meals per year#

Redbreast Sunfish One meal per week#

Largemouth Bass One meal per week#

Common Carp Four meals per year#

All fish species Do not eat

 ADVISORY/PROHIBITION

 General Population (1,2)
 Range of Recommended Meal
 Frequency

SPECIES Lifetime Cancer Risk
 of 1 in 100,000

 DO NOT EAT
 MORE THAN

American lobsters (4) Do not eat green glands
 (hepatopancreas)

American eel One meal per year#

Bluefish Do not eat#
(over 6 1bs/24 inches)

Bluefish# One meal per year#
(less than 6 lbs/24 inches)

Striped bass * One meal per year#

Blue crab * Do not eat or harvest (5)

Striped bass * Do not eat

American eel * Do not eat#

White perch Do not eat#

White catfish Do not eat#

All fish and shellfish * Do not eat

Blue crab * Do not eat or harvest (5)

Striped bass * Do not eat#

American eel * Do not eat#

White perch Do not eat#

White catfish Do not eat#

Blue crab Three crabs per month#

 Do not eat green gland
 (hepatopancreas); Discard
 cooking liquid

American eel# Do not eat#

White perch Do not eat#

White catfish Do not eat#

Blue crab# Three crabs per month#

 Do not eat green gland
 (hepatopancreas); Discard
 cooking liquid

American eel# Once a year#

American eel Do not eat

Striped bass Do not eat#

Channel catfish One meal every two months

All finfish Do not eat

Striped Bass Do not eat#

Channel catfish Once a year

White catfish Once a year

White perch Once a year

American eel# Four meals per year#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Largemouth Bass Four meals per year#

Pumpkinseed Sunfish Four meals per year#

White Catfish One meal per year#

Brown Bullhead One meal per month#

Common Carp One meal per year#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per month#

Brown Bullhead Four meals per year#

Largemouth Bass Do not eat#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Brown Bullhead One meal per month#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per month#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per month#

Brown Bullhead One meal per month#

Largemouth Bass Four meals per year#

Common Carp One meal per year#

Largemouth Bass One meal per year#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per year#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Brown Bullhead Four meals per year#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per month#

Brown Bullhead One meal per month#

Largemouth Bass Four meals per year#

Common Carp One meal per year#

Redbreast Sunfish Four meals per year#

Brown Bullhead Four meals per year#

Largemouth Bass One meal per year#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Redbreast Sunfish Four meals per year#

Largemouth Bass Four meals per year#

Common Carp Do not eat#

All fish species Do not eat

 ADVISORY/PROHIBITION
 High-Risk Individual (2,3)
 Recommended Meal
 Frequency

SPECIES DO NOT EAT
 MORE THAN

American lobsters (4) Do not eat green glands
 (hepatopancreas)

American eel Do not eat

Bluefish Do not eat
(over 6 1bs/24 inches)

Bluefish# Do not eat#
(less than 6 lbs/24 inches)

Striped bass * Do not eat#

Blue crab * Do not eat or harvest (5)

Striped bass * Do not eat

American eel * Do not eat

White perch Do not eat

White catfish Do not eat

All fish and shellfish * Do not eat

Blue crab * Do not eat or harvest (5)

Striped bass * Do not eat

American eel * Do not eat

White perch Do not eat

White catfish Do not eat

Blue crab Three crabs per month#

 Do not eat green gland
 (hepatopancreas); Discard
 cooking liquid

American eel# Do not eat#

White perch Do not eat

White catfish Do not eat

Blue crab# Three crabs per month#

 Do not eat green gland
 (hepatopancreas); Discard
 cooking liquid

American eel# Do not eat#

American eel Do not eat#

Striped bass Do not eat#

Channel catfish Do not eat#

All finfish Do not eat#

Striped Bass Do not eat#

Channel catfish Do not eat#

White catfish Do not eat#

White perch Do not eat#

American eel# Four meals per year#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Largemouth Bass Do not eat#

Pumpkinseed Sunfish Four meals per year#

White Catfish One meal per year#

Brown Bullhead One meal per month#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per month#

Brown Bullhead Four meals per year#

Largemouth Bass Do not eat#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Brown Bullhead One meal per month#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per month#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per month#

Brown Bullhead Four meals per year#

Largemouth Bass Four meals per year#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Largemouth Bass One meal per year#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per year#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Brown Bullhead Four meals per year#

Bluegill Sunfish One meal per month#

Brown Bullhead One meal per month#

Largemouth Bass Four meals per year#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Redbreast Sunfish Four meals per year#

Brown Bullhead Four meals per year#

Largemouth Bass One meal per year#

Common Carp Do not eat#

Redbreast Sunfish Four meals per year#

Largemouth Bass Do not eat

Common Carp Do not eat#

All fish species Do not eat

NOTE: Meal frequencies that are in italics (e.g., One meal per
month) indicate advisories that are new or revised.

* Selling any of these species from designated water bodies is
prohibited in New Jersey (N.J.A.C. 7:25-18A.4).

(1) Range of Recommended Meal Frequency corresponds to a cancer
risk of 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100,000 over a lifetime.

(2) Eat only the fillet portions of the fish. Use proper trimming
techniques to remove fat, and cooking methods that allow juices to
drain from the fish (e.g., baking, broiling, frying, grilling,
and steaming). See text for full description. One meal is defined
as an eight-ounce serving.

(3) High-risk individuals include infants, children, pregnant
women, nursing mothers and women of childbearing age.

(4) Advisories based on dioxin remain in effect for American
lobster; and the Newark Bay Complex, except for white perch, white
catfish, and American eel, which are based on PCBs.

(5) No harvest means no taking or attempting to take any blue
crabs from these waters.

** Supersedes the mercury advisory for listed species in these
waters.

Photo Credits: Public domain images from U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (www.images.fws.gov/); American lobster: NOAA
(www.photolib.noaa.gov/harvest; Rick Wahle).

Note: Meal frequencies indicates within #.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This publication is part of an ongoing effort to assess water and habitat quality of New Jersey's estuarine and coastal marine environments. I want to thank members of the Marine Water Quality Monitoring Program of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for providing data and other information on the coastal bays of New Jersey. Special thanks are given to Robert Connell. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Edison, New Jersey) is also acknowledged for providing data on PCBs in coastal systems of the state. Special thanks are given to Darvene Adams. This is Publication No. 2005-57 of the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, and Contribution No. 100-30 of the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve.

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Michael J. Kennish

Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences

Rutgers University

New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8521
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