FishOne of the presentations at Wednesday’s BPAC meeting was on the topic of tumours in fish. Doctor Paul Baumann of the U-S Wildlife and Fishing Service talked about the study results for various bodies of water in Ontario. One of the surprising figures is that the rate of incidents of certain fish with tumours in the St. Mary’s River is 10 percent out of a sample of 100 white suckers — those figures taken between 2006 and 2009. Doctor Baumann says there is a reason why the frequency rate is high in this area of Lake Superior — potent atmospheric pollutants also known as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons…

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He adds that the risk for tumours in fish should lessen over time as a result of dredging in affected areas. One example Doctor Baumann gave is the Black River in Ohio, which in five years during the 1980′s went from nearly 400 parts per million of carcinogens in the water to less than 10 parts per million. The St. Mary’s River currently sits at 20 to 40 parts per million. The risk for tumours in white suckers has been growing in four of five bodies of water within Lake Superior. The sites, including the St. Marys River, were part of the provincial study. Doctor Baumann says dredging in an affected area can greatly reduce the risk of tumours in affected fish over time…

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Another statistic that stood out in the presentation is that younger fish in the St. Marys — about 7 to 10 years old — have become susceptible to tumours. In normal cases, fish 20 years or older would carry the greater risk of developing cancer. Doctor Baumann feels this is the result of sediment that still needs to be removed from an affected body of water or sediment that continues to have a high concentration of PAHs or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. When asked what fishermen should do in the event of catching one of these fish, Doctor Baumann answered that in most cases, the fish are actually able to metabolize the compound. But he did add there is a seperate risk…

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A new study on the issue is scheduled to start later this year. It may well determine any long term effects on white suckers in the St. Marys River and other bodies of water around Lake Superior.