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Study Finds FDA Allowed Contaminants in Seafood after BP Oil Spill

Natural Resources Defense Council

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seriously underestimated the cancer risk from contaminants that can accumulate in seafood when the agency allowed commercial fishing to resume in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill disaster, a new study published Oct. 12 found.

The study was published online by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, authored by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman and Gina Solomon of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

They found that by using flawed assumptions and outdated risk assessment methods, FDA allowed up to 10,000 times too much contamination and failed to identify risks for pregnant women and children.

Based on these findings, NRDC filed a petition Oct. 12 asking FDA to protect the public, especially pregnant women, children and people who eat a lot of seafood, by setting a standard that limits the level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in seafood. PAHs are chemicals found in oil, industrial pollution and urban run-off that can cause cancer, birth defects, neurological delays and liver damage.

“Our findings add to a long list of evidence that FDA is overlooking the risks from chemical contaminants in food,” Rotkin-Ellman said. “We must not wait for people to get sick or cancer rates to rise, we need FDA to act now to protect the food supply.”

The study concluded that “FDA risk assessment methods should be updated to better reflect current risk assessment practices and to protect vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children.”

For more information, click here.

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Link to the study “Seafood Contamination After the BP Gulf Oil Spill and Risks to Vulnerable Populations: A Critique of the FDA Risk Assessment” by clicking here.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org

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