July 7, 2010
The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued an advisory warning
people not to consume any species of fish from portions of the Trinity River in
Tarrant, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Henderson, Navarro, Freestone and Anderson
The advisory includes the Clear Fork of the Trinity River from the Benbrook
Reservoir Dam and the West Fork of the Trinity River from the Lake Worth Dam
through the main stem of the Trinity River downstream to the U.S. Highway 287
bridge on the Freestone-Anderson county line.
The advisory was issued after laboratory testing of fish samples found
elevated levels of dioxins and polychlorinated byphenyls, or PCBs.
Long-term consumption of dioxins and PCBs may cause cancer and reproductive,
immune system, developmental and liver problems. According to DSHS standards,
PCB levels in fish above 0.047 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) may pose a risk
to human health. PCB levels in the most recent Trinity River samples averaged
0.185 mg/kg and were as high as 1.301 mg/kg. Levels of dioxins averaged 2.64
picograms per gram (pg/g), above the DSHS standard of 2.33 pg/g.
PCBs are industrial chemicals once used as coolants and lubricants in
electrical equipment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned PCBs in
1979, but items containing them did not have to be replaced. Dioxins are
byproducts of combustion and industrial activity. Dioxins and PCBs degrade
slowly in the environment.
Elevated levels of PCBs and dioxins in fish do not pose a health risk for
people swimming or participating in other water recreation activities.
DSHS is lifting two aquatic life orders that prohibited people from
possessing fish from a smaller section of the Trinity River due to high levels
of the pesticide chlordane. Levels of chlordane have dropped and are no longer a
health concern. The fish consumption advisory still applies.
(News Media Contact: Chris Van Deusen, DSHS
Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7753.)
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