dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known as DDT, exceeded
state recommendations in five fish species collected in Newport Bay
between 2000 and 2002.
The bay is a popular fishing spot, but officials said they're not
sure how many people are eating what they catch there.
PCB, which has been used in electrical equipment, could cause
problems in infant development. DDT is a pesticide that was banned
because of links to cancer. The healthcare agency commissioned the
study, which was performed by the Southern California Coastal Water
Research Project and is still being completed.
"We made the decision that we felt it was prudent to let the
public know these levels in these fish in Newport Bay as soon as
possible," said Larry Honeybourne, spokesman for the Orange County
Health Care Agency.
No official advisory has been issued against eating four of the
five species of contaminated fish, which included jacksmelt,
yellowfin croaker, spotted sand bass and California halibut. An
advisory already was in place for the fifth species, the California
corbina, when caught near the Newport Pier, said Allan Hirsch,
spokesman for the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard
Assessment, which issues fish health advisories.
That office will incorporate the information from the study in an
overall evaluation and update of fish advisories for Los Angeles and
Orange counties that is expected by the end of the year, Hirsch said.
For now, people may want to follow the existing advisory for the
corbina, which recommends eating no more than one meal, or six ounces
for a 150-pound adult, per week, he said.
"The levels of those chemicals [in the other four species] were
low enough that we don't really feel that right now we can rush out
with advice," Hirsch said. "We don't see anything that is overly
alarming or that we feel would constitute a public health emergency."
The Orange County Public Health Agency said the fish contained
levels of PCB up to 57.8 parts per billion, while the Office of
Environmental Health Hazard Assessment considers a level beyond 20
parts per billion a possible health risk. DDT levels went as high as