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Disparity between state fish consumption advisory systems for methylmercury and US Environmental Protection Agency recommendations: A case study of the south central United States

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Fish consumption advisories are used to inform citizens in the United States about noncommercial game fish with hazardous levels of methylmercury (MeHg). The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) suggests issuing a fish consumption advisory when concentrations of MeHg in fish exceed a human health screening value of 300 ng/g. However, states have authority to develop their own systems for issuing fish consumption advisories for MeHg. Five states in the south central United States (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas) issue advisories for the general human population when concentrations of MeHg exceed 700 ng/g to 1000 ng/g. The objective of the present study was to estimate the increase in fish consumption advisories that would occur if these states followed USEPA recommendations. The authors used the National Descriptive Model of Mercury in Fish to estimate the mercury concentrations in 5 size categories of largemouth bass–equivalent fish at 766 lentic and lotic sites within the 5 states. The authors found that states in this region have not issued site‐specific fish consumption advisories for most of the water bodies that would have such advisories if USEPA recommendations were followed. One outcome of the present study may be to stimulate discussion between scientists and policy makers at the federal and state levels about appropriate screening values to protect the public from the health hazards of consuming MeHg‐contaminated game fish. Environ Toxicol Chem 2015;9999:1–5. © 2015 SETAC

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