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Opinion: Seafood needs better science

Improved assessment needed to protect Gulf seafood consumers after the oil spill, say two environmental health scientists

Gina M. Solomon, M.D., M.P.H. and Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, M.P.H.
On August 19, 2010, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on seafood safety in the Gulf of Mexico. The hearing was spurred by the opening of this year's shrimp season, amid worries that reopened areas might be tainted by the recent BP oil spill. Government officials testified that the seafood is safe, but fishermen and some scientists raised concerns. The health concerns from Gulf seafood are not immediate but they are serious, and the government safety system is not yet up to the task of assuring safety in the months and years ahead.

Image: Wikimedia commons
Seafood can be contaminated after an oil spill in three ways: crude oil can coat seafood or be incorporated into fish or shellfish, making it smell or taste oily and be unsafe to eat. As the oil breaks down in the environment, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the oil enter...
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