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HEALTH CONSULTATION


HUDSON RIVER PCBS
GLEN FALLS, WARREN COUNTY, NEW YORK


CONCLUSIONS

Results from this survey and the previous one done in 1991-92 by Clearwater (Barclay, 1993) may not accurately represent all Hudson River anglers. Very few boat anglers were surveyed and information was not available to develop a random sample of the shoreline anglers. Nonetheless, given these limitations, a number of conclusions can be reached.
  1. Numerous anglers remained unaware of the NYS DOH health advisories for the Hudson River, particularly those who were fishing downstream of Catskill.
  2. In 1996, more anglers in the Upper Hudson River were aware of the advisories and appear to be complying with the advice than in 1991-92.
  3. No respondents in the Upper Hudson River said that they were eating, giving away or selling the fish they caught. However, a small proportion (3%) had fish in their possession when interviewed. Most of the fish were largemouth and smallmouth bass or bluegill, species that are often eaten. In 1991-92, about 10% of anglers had said they ate the fish they caught and almost 20% said they gave fish away sometimes or frequently.
  4. Less than 10% of anglers fishing between Troy and Catskill said that they ate, gave away or sold the fish they caught, and only 1% actually had fish when interviewed.
  5. In 1996, two-thirds of anglers fishing between Catskill and the Tappan Zee Bridge continued to report eating at least some of their fish, and almost half of anglers gave fish away sometimes or frequently - similar to 1991-92.
  6. The fish that anglers kept were the most contaminated species in each part of the river.
  7. Half of the anglers who said they ate fish from the Hudson River reported eating two meals in the previous month. Some anglers and others who eat fish from the Hudson River are being exposed to levels of PCBs that are a health concern and are at risk of adverse health effects.
  8. Most anglers became aware of the health advisories through the fishing regulations guide provided when they purchased a fishing license. However, signs placed along the Upper Hudson River, where most anglers had a license, appear to have contributed to improved awareness of the advisories.



RECOMMENDATIONS

Until the sources of PCB which contaminate fish and other biota in the river are controlled, health advisories should continue to be issued. NYS DOH should continue to review data on levels of fish contamination and public health risks and revise the health advisories accordingly. ATSDR and NYS DOH should continue to review all data to determine the need for additional actions at the site.

The findings of this study reinforce the recommendation in the 1994 Site Review and Update that "[a]dditional community health education efforts may be needed to inform those who still fish in the Hudson River of the health risk posed by PCB exposure to contaminated fish." Particular needs identified by this study are:

  1. Additional educational efforts should be focused on the Lower Hudson River and contiguous waters with the same advisories (e.g., Harlem and East River, New York Harbor).
  2. New techniques should be explored for finding and educating those who are eating Hudson River fish to the health risks. Particular attention should be paid to individuals who do not speak or read English.
  3. A better survey should be conducted (i.e., one than more accurately represents all Hudson River anglers) to better characterize those who eat, give away or sell Hudson River fish and to better understand how to convince anglers to follow the health advice.


PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN

The Public Health Action Plan for the Hudson River PCB site contains a description of the actions to be taken by the US EPA, ATSDR, and/or the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) at or near the site subsequent to the completion of this health consultation. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this health consultation not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included, is a commitment on the part of the ATSDR/NYS DOH to follow-up on this plan to ensure that it is implemented. The public health actions to be implemented are as follow:
  1. NYS DOH will continue to evaluate new data regarding contaminants in fish and issue appropriate health advisories as needed.
  2. NYS DOH will continue to work with NYS DEC to distribute updated versions of the NYS DOH health advisories to anglers who fish in the Hudson River, New York Harbor and other affected marine waters.
  3. Additional community education efforts are needed and should include the coordinated efforts of local communities, state and federal government, non-government organizations and anglers to find effective ways to reach anglers and to implement them.

 

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