Evaluating fish consumption patterns of people residing near a contaminated estuary in coastal Georgia
McElwee, Joseph Monroe
MetadataShow full item record
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) are a class of industrial contaminants linked to adverse health effects in animals and humans including immune suppression, impaired cognitive development, liver damage, and impaired reproduction. Prior research has shown high levels of PCBs in the coastal area surrounding Brunswick, Georgia, as well as correspondingly high levels in the tissues of local fish and cetaceans. Additional research has shown the transfer of PCBs and contaminants into local estuarine systems as well as north along the coast to Sapelo Island. Human consumption of local fish in this area is likely leading to the human ingestion of PCBs, and it is not known whether fish are consumed in excess of recommended consumption limits established by Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The study area was estuarine systems from Purvis Creek near Brunswick, GA and extended 30 miles north along the Atlantic coast to Sapelo Island, GA. This study employed intercept interview methodology to analyze the fish consumption habits of a sample of local fish consumers (n=138, 113 reported being fish consumers), including the quantity consumed on an individual basis, specific species ingested, how long individuals have been consuming local fish, and whether children are consuming local fish. Results showed that among individuals that reported consuming fish, 49.5% reported consuming 1 or more fish meals per week, matching or exceeding advisory recommendations for many species. Combining reported data on size of meals, estimated monthly consumption averaged 40 oz/month (1134 grams) among fish consuming respondents. Additionally, 52% of respondents reported that children in their household consumed local fish.