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Groundbreaking Mussel Watch Pilot in California Receives National Media Attention

Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) and collaborators from the state of California are, for the first time, analyzing mussels collected from 80 sites state-wide for “contaminants of emerging concern.”

Foremost among these contaminants are a group of chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. Used as a flame retardant in a wide variety of products, they have been found all around the U.S. coast, and in rivers and lakes as well. A recent report by NCCOS presented the extent of PBDE contamination across the U.S. (Click here for a link to the report).

The researchers are also analyzing for, amongst others, pharmaceuticals and anti-bacterial agents used in hand sanitizers. They will be analyzing not only for the extent of contamination but reporting on areas of the country where the highest levels have been found. The researchers hope to use the information gained from these analyses to determine which of these contaminants needs to be further studied to determine contaminant levels in higher living creatures and other effects.

The Mussel Watch Program has, since 1986, been sampling mussels and oysters from locations along the U.S. coast for a variety of metals, pesticides, and other organic contaminants. The Associated Press profiled this pilot project in an article on December 29, 2009. It was subsequently picked up by dozens of media outlets nationwide, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and ABC news.

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Shorter web link for sharing: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=1473

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