Bioaccumulate is just a big word that scientists use to mean “stores up”. Some chemicals flush out of our bodies very easily while others stick around for a long time. These chemicals with staying power are said to bio-accumulate. We are not alone; the same thing is true for fish and shellfish that we like to eat.
Oysters, blue crab, shrimp, and mussel collected from the Atchafalaya Bay eastward to the Louisiana/Mississippi state line contained hydrocarbons that are known to bioaccumulate in tissue.[i] The hydrocarbons Fluoranthene, Anthracene,, Phenanthrene, and Pyrene are listed as bio-accumulating on the Ecological Risk Assessment.[ii] This is very bad news. Samples have been contaminated with up to 8,815 to 12,500 mg/kg Oil Range Organic Petroleum Hydrocarbons. When we eat fish and shellfish with chemicals with staying power, then our bodies collect them too. This is not terrible if you are a young healthy man, but women of child bearing age and children should be more careful.
Our friends at Subra Company, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network have been doing some great work sampling seafood, soil, sediment, and blood in coastal Louisiana. See more of their work HERE .
Casey DeMoss Roberts is the Assistant Director of Science and Water Policy at the Gulf Restoration Network.
Subra, W., Orr M., and Orr, P. (2010) Results of sampling performed by the Lower Mississippi River Keeper from Atchafalaya Bay eastward to the Louisiana/Mississippi state line, in the Gulf of Mexico coastal areas of Louisiana. Accessed at: http://leanweb.org/news/latest/bp-oil-spill-seafood-sampling-project-results-overview.html on January 31, 2011.
EPA. Ecological Risk Assessment. Accessed at: http://www.epa.gov/reg3hwmd/risk/eco/btag/sbv/marine/screenbench.htm on January 31, 2011.