August 15, 2012
Kevin L. Armbrust, Mississippi State University
Following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, the state of Mississippi began sampling and monitoring crabs, shrimp, oysters, and several species of fish from numerous locations within Mississippi state waters. From the end of May 2010 to date, over 400 samples have been analyzed by the State for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as listed in the NOAA method for analysis of PAHs in seafood. Additional samples were also collected and submitted to the NOAA laboratory in Pascagoula, MS to support the reopening of state waters in accordance with the protocol jointly developed by the gulf coast states, FDA and NOAA. PAHs have not been detected in any sample collected to date at levels above the level of concern (LOC) as established in the reopening protocol. PAHs were routinely detected in most samples at low part-per-billion levels and are consistent with values commonly detected in samples measured in other studies unrelated to the oil spill. However, to allay consumer concerns about low detections of PAHs in seafood and to best communicate the risk of these levels to consumers, concentrations of PAHs were also evaluated in common meat products (smoked turkey, ham, chicken, catfish, and barbecued pork) purchased at local restaurants and super markets. The levels of PAHs measured in seafood were consistent with or below levels of PAHs detected in these food items.