The IPHC has worked cooperatively with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), to investigate the presence of heavy metals (arsenic, selenium, lead, cadmium, nickel, mercury, and chromium) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Pacific halibut caught in Alaskan waters during the period 2002-2017. Results from these studies were used to identify ADEC’s research needs.
During that period, 2,744 samples were tested by ADEC. The mean level of total mercury for these samples was 0.3 ppm, ranging from non-detectable to 2.0 ppm. For comparison, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limit of concern is based on methyl mercury (~85% of total mercury) levels of 1.0 ppm, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) level of concern is 0.5 ppm. Results from analysis of POPs (i.e. pesticides, selected PCB congeners, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s – found in plastics as fire retardants) dioxins, and furans etc.) found that in general these compounds are either undetectable in Pacific halibut or well below the levels found in other marine fish species. This finding is consistent with the fact that the majority of POP chemicals are fat-soluble, and Pacific halibut have lower fat content compared to other species.
Analysis by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) has found that most species of fish in Alaskan waters contain mercury levels that are too low to constitute a health risk.
To find out more information on this topic, please follow one of the links listed below:
Specific contaminant level results and guidelines can be found on ADEC’s Fish Monitoring Program website: http://dec.alaska.gov/eh/vet/fish-monitoring-program
Fish Consumption Advice (AK Department of Health and Social Services): http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/eph/pages/fish/default.aspx
IPHC report on total mercury in Pacific halibut: https://www.iphc.int/uploads/pdf/2k8rara08b_hg.pdf