Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment
Outline of Presentation
- Introduction to mercury in fish and public health intervention.
- Issuance of 1994 statewide advisory
- Increasing evidence of pollution and health effects
- Mass Mercury Reduction Plan - DPH focus on Merrimack Valley
- Expanded Statewide Advisory
1986: Sudbury River Advisory
- Mercury levels in Sudbury River fish prompts the 1st MDPH advisory.
- The general public was advised not to consume any fish from this water body.
- The advisory covered the length of the Sudbury River from Ashland, MA to its confluence with the Assabet and Concord Rivers.
- Contamination thought to be related to Nyanza Superfund Site.
1994: Statewide Fish Advisory
- Pregnant women are advised of the possible health risks from eating fish from Massachusetts freshwater bodies in order to prevent exposure of the developing fetus to mercury.
- MDPH continued to recognize the substantial benefits of fish consumption by the general population.
- The advisory did not apply to fish stocked in freshwater bodies by Division of Fish and Wildlife.
|Faroe Islands Study (1999)||New Zealand Study (1989)|
Mercury: Low Dose Health Effects
The fetus is much more sensitive than the adult. Health effects in children include:
- I.Q. deficits
- Delayed developmental milestones
- Impaired motor function
- Attention and behavioral problems
- Decreased visuospatial performance
Mercury in Fish in Massachusetts
Focus on the Merrimack Valley
- Subsistence fishing, especially among immigrant and minority populations.
- Focus on subsistence fishers and their families.
- Grand Rounds at the Community Health Centers: physicians, nurses, health educators.
- Focus group meetings with immigrant and minority residents.
- Outreach to local health departments.
2001 Expanded Fish Advisory
- Expanded 1994 Statewide Advisory to include women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and children under 12 years old.
- Includes marine fish listed in recently released FDA advisory: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish
- Massachusetts advisory includes tuna steak and advice on canned tuna.
- Facts on Mercury and Contaminants in Fish Caught in Massachusetts Freshwater and some Coastal Waters
Planned Follow-up Outreach Activities
- Mailings to community health centers, local health officials and health care providers.
- Coordination with WIC program.
- Grand Round programs at Massachusetts hospitals with a focus on OB/GYN and pediatricians.
- Coordination with various media outlets. äVarious advertising initiatives (e.g. MBTA)
Download the PowerPoint version file size 2MB of this information on the Public Health Response to Mercury in Fish.
This information is provided by the Environmental Toxicology Program within the Department of Public Health.