Human health assessment framework for embayment sediment quality being finalized

Posted April 28, 2017

SCCWRP and its partners are wrapping up a final round of updates to a draft statewide assessment framework that evaluates how contaminated sediment affects the health of humans who consume fish caught in California’s enclosed bays and estuaries.

The human health sediment quality objective framework is being submitted to the State Water Board in the coming weeks for review and, eventually, possible adoption. The State Water Board adopted a comparable embayment assessment framework in 2009 that focuses on the protection of sediment-dwelling aquatic life.

The human health framework uses contamination data obtained through fish tissue sampling to estimate the level of chemical exposure via human consumption. A bioaccumulation model that explains how the contaminants have traveled through marine food webs is used to estimate what role sediment contamination played in contaminating the fish.

The draft statewide framework also includes a decision support tool to help end users with implementation.

In recent months, SCCWRP and its partners have refined the framework and decision support tool in response to feedback by the project’s stakeholder advisory committee. Enhancements include:

  • incorporating fish consumption advisory levels from the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHAA) into the framework to assess chemical exposure
  • updating a water column contaminant model to reflect relationships between local sediment contaminant concentrations and measured dissolved contaminant concentrations in the water column
  • improving data comparability by updating the congener list for the PCB contaminant class with that used in current monitoring programs

If adopted, the human health assessment framework would be incorporated into a revised version of the state’s Water Quality Control Plan for Enclosed Bays and Estuaries.

More news related to: Sediment Quality, Sediment Quality Assessment Frameworks