DC Issues ‘Do Not Eat’ Warning for Rockfish, a Local Favorite, Over High Levels of Chemical Contamination

Rockfish, also known as striper and striped bass, has been added to DC’s list of PCB-contaminated fish, which should be avoided
DC Issues ‘Do Not Eat’ Warning for Rockfish, a Local Favorite, Over High Levels of Chemical Contamination

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Rockfish were found to contain high levels of PCBs, long-term exposure to which can increase the risk of cancer.

The Washington, D.C. Department of Energy and Environment has added rockfish, a local favorite, to its “Do Not Eat” list for the first time ever over the discovery of elevated levels of chemical residue detected in rockfish from D.C. waters, like the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.

Local rockfish, along with American eel and carp, were found to be “the most contaminated by chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)” — manmade organic compounds that can build up in fatty tissues and the environment, long-term exposure to which can increase the risk of cancer.

Though PCBs were used in electrical equipment from the 1950s to the 1970s and are no longer produced, they are still present in the environment. Pregnant and nursing mothers and children are especially susceptible to risk.

Incidentally, just last week, the rockfish was the subject of an NPR profile on the proliferation of mislabeled seafood. Some chefs, who worry that their customers will not recognize rockfish, sell the fish on their menus as striped bass or striper. Other chefs prefer to use the real name and perhaps boost demand for rockfish, which would benefit fishermen. 

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