Cancer risk to fish greatest from pollution pulses

The highest cancer risk to fish from polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) occurs as a result of peak exposures, new research has shown. The results suggest that low-level background exposure is much less important, and monitoring needs to include measurements of peak levels of pollution after accidents to understand the impact on aquatic life.

Dr Bill Watson, of Shell Research, reported the findings at a conference in September on the environmental fate of chemicals organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Dr Watson has studied the biochemical effects of PAHs on rainbow trout to help quantify the pollution risks to aquatic life. PAHs, some of which are known carcinogens, are common by-products of fossil fuel combusti

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