PCB Warning Issued for Fish in Texas Lake

State officials in Texas are advising people to avoid consuming catfish, channel catfishm and smallmouth buffalo caught in Lake Worth because elevated PCB levels have been detected in some fish species, wrote the Star Telegram.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said its testing revealed higher levels of PCBs—polychlorinated biphenyls—as well as the insecticides Aldrin and dieldrin in those particular fish species in 2008 when those samples were collected, said the Star Telegram. In 2000, the warning involved all Lake Worth fish, and the recent warning lifts prior warnings against consuming largemouth bass, common carp, freshwater drum, and white crappie, said the Star Telegram.

“It will get better with time as long there aren’t more pollutants introduced into the watershed,” said Department of Health Services spokesman Chris Van Deusen, quoted the Star Telegram.

PCBs—which have been making headlines for their part in contaminating New York City’s Newton Creek and Hudson River—are significantly problematic because they do not easily degrade and do bioaccumulate infiltrating plants, crops, fish, and small organisms, ultimately reaching those who eat these products. Because of this, nearly every human being on the planet carries some PCB in his/her body, which can also be passed from mothers to children during pregnancy and in breast milk.

PCBs can remain in our bodies for many years; the longer we live, the more these toxins build in our systems, increasing in strength over time.

PCBs include about 200 compounds and are a class of very toxic chemicals ubiquitously found in construction materials and electrical products in many buildings from the 1950s until 1978, when they were phased out. The Star Telegram notes that PCBs are also used as “coolants and lubricants in electrical transformers and capacitors.” Although banned, PCBs were an element in school construction and electrical products during this time.

In addition to being a skin irritant, PCBs have been linked to some cancers, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects to the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system, notes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its website.

The insecticides Aldrin and dieldrin are also known to cause cancer, birth defects, and kidney damage in humans and were restricted by the EPA in 1974; banned in 1987, said the Star Telegram, which noted that those toxins also remain in the environment for years.

In July, Texas state health officials issued another advisory against consuming all fish from the Clear Fork and West Fork of the Trinity River located beneath the Lake Worth dam and the Benbrook Lake dam, which is below the main stream of the Trinity and to the the Freestone-Anderson County line, wrote the Star Telegram. The July advisory was over increased PCBs and dioxins found in fish samples.

Help filing claims and other legal assistance for the victims of PCB and insecticide contamination is available here.

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