Evidence shows that concentrations of PAHs found in seafood samples were up to 3,800 times greater than thresholds considered safe for human consumption by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The data used in the independent study is based on samples taken across several media—seafood, fauna and flora, sediment and water—collected in the GOM from the south coast of Texas to west coast of Florida between June, 2010 and November, 2010.
The findings also showed how far the dispersed oil apparently traveled, indicating PAH/TPH toxicity levels found as far away as the coast of Galveston, Texas were substantially higher than levels reported by government agencies for water and sediment, generally used to gauge the state of commercial fisheries and health impacts on the ecosystem.
The study, which appeared in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin (MPB) published by Elsevier Ltd, additionally looked at the monitoring techniques used to support assessments made by federal agencies overseeing water and seafood quality during and after the BP spill.
Those familiar with the government testing methods and laboratory protocols have suggested that the preponderance of “non-detect” readings reported by NOAA was probably due to a “techniques issue”. Profound differences in the testing methodology and sampling locations can easily cause such variance in the results.
The MPB-published paper pointed out “The spill began on April 20, 2010. US-Department of Commerce – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began closing ?sheries on May 2, 2010. It began reopening them, with various spatial and other limits, on June 23. The well was capped on July 15.”
The question arises “Why would fisheries be re-opened before the BP well was capped?” It is possible that certain areas tested negatively for petroleum hydrocarbons, but the reasons for that are not fully understood at this time.
The MPB-published paper urges that more water analysis and sediment analysis is recommended in the northern Gulf of Mexico, in regions where both oil/gas production and fisheries exploration are being pursued. Continued monitoring of oil in the water column, sediment, marine biota, and seafood would be valuable in helping to determine petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations in the environment and define any potential impacts on the seafood industry.
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