The Washington Department of Ecology will hold a public workshop in Seattle as part of an effort intended to update statewide environmental standards “that will better safeguard people who eat fish and shellfish from Washington’s waters.”
The technical workshop on fish consumption in Washington is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 at the University of Washington’s South Campus Center.
Washington uses fish consumption rates as a basis for environmental cleanup and pollution control. The state currently uses two rates based on assumptions about how much fish and shellfish residents eat: 6.5 grams per day incorporated into water quality standards, and 54 grams per day, which is used in setting sediment and water cleanup standards. The rates were developed in the early 1980s and 1990s.
But current science indicates that those rates do not accurately reflect how much of the state’s fish and shellfish residents actually eat each day. In fact, Ecology officials say, the available information indicates that some residents consume much larger amounts. The study focuses on a range that would be protective of high fish-consuming people and groups.
Oregon earlier this year approved human health criteria revisions based on a new fish consumption rate of 175 grams per day (about 23 eight-ounce fish meals a month), a leap from the state’s previous 6.5 grams a day (less than one eight-ounce fish meal per month).
(For more information see CBB, June 17, 2011 “Oregon Approves New Water Quality Rules Based On Highest ‘Fish Consumption Rate’ In Nation” http://www.cbbulletin.com/409986.aspx)
To get at the problem of toxics in fish and shellfish, Ecology has started a public dialogue aimed at developing a more accurate view of how much fish and shellfish Washington residents eat. The Dec. 12 workshop is part of that public effort.
The workshop will include information on what is and is not known about fish consumption in Washington, the process the state of Oregon went through to update and change its fish consumption rate, and views of the issue from industry, tribes and other high fish-consuming groups, other health professionals, and other interested parties.
In announcing the workshop Ecology officials said, “The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet. Not only is fish an important source of nutrition, the acts of catching, preparing and eating fish are important cultural and family practices as well. So it’s important to have environmental standards that protect people who eat fish from exposure to harmful chemicals.”
Ecology currently is seeking public comments on a recently released technical support document, which focuses on fish consumption in Washington and existing environmental and human health information. The draft document is called “Fish Consumption Rates Technical Support Document: A Review of Data and Information About Fish Consumption in Washington.”
The draft document can be found at www.ecy.wa.gov/toxics/fish.html