Chemical Contamination of Seafood and Significance for Conservation

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Andrea J. Noziglia, Center for Biology & Society, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Chemical contamination found in both wild-caught and farmed seafood poses significant health risks to consumers. Flame retardants, used in upholstery, plastics, clothing, and other products to reduce fire danger, are especially concerning as they are commonly found in the marine environment and permeate the tissues of fish that are sold for consumption via multiple pathways. When choosing which types of seafood to eat, consumers might take both environmental and personal well-being into account to maintain good health while also preserving the future of the foods they like to eat. By summarizing the conclusions of public seafood guides and the results of multiple studies of chemical contaminants in consumed marine species, researchers have found that chemical contamination, specifically of mercury, was more relevant to the relationship between seafood health and fishery sustainability than omega-3 fatty acids. The current study compiled data from recent scientific literature (from 2002 to the present) and conducted regression analysis to examine the relationship between flame retardant concentration and perceived fish stock sustainability. Flame retardants chosen for this study include BDD (polybrominated dibenzodioxins), BDF (polybrominated dibenzofurans), BRP (bromophenols), HBCD (hexabromocyclododecanes), MeO-BDE (methoxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers), OH-BDE (hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers), PBB (polybrominated biphenyls), PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), and PCDE (polychlorinated diphenyl ethers). The greater implication of this investigation for conservation is that the widespread issue of fishery collapse could be alleviated by demonstrating to stakeholders that many unsustainable fish stocks are mutually disadvantageous for both human consumers and the environment. Furthermore, trophic level plays an important role in chemical contamination and in quantifying sustainability. Similar investigations in the future should address the need for the collection of data that better represents actual global contaminant concentrations in seafood.