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Warning: if you eat Great Lakes fish....

Warning: If you eat Great Lakes fish . . .

Weekly consumers of Great Lakes sport fish -- primarily lake and brown trout, coho, chinook and king salmon -- may face "high" excess cancer risks from chemical contaminants, even when contaminant levels in the fish are only one-fifth those triggering state health warnings, according to researchers with the National Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

When states issue health warnings on fish, they base them on Food and Drug Administration action levels. Designed to indicate the maximum contaminant level allowed in commercially marketed foods, the FDA levels -- set in the 1960s and '70s -- were never based on cancer risk assessments, notes National Wildlife Federation scientist Jeffery A. Foran of Ann Arbor, Mich. Instead, FDA's action levels were based largely on a cost-benefit analysis, on background levels of contamination and on existing detection limits for the tainting chemicals. In the March AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, Foran and his co-workers compute cancer risk assessments for two pesticides -- DDT and dieldrin -- that have periodically spurred state warnings to fish consumers. The new risk data, Foran says, show that FDA action levels used to trigger state warnings "clearly do not protect human health."
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Title Annotation:Food Science
Publication:Science News
Date:May 13, 1989
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