Monitoring Toxics in Fish

The Freshwater Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program, formerly called the Washington State Toxics Monitoring Program, characterizes PBTs in freshwater fish throughout Washington. Since 2001, the program has analyzed over 400 fish-tissue samples from 150 sites. Most of these efforts were part of an exploratory monitoring component, with the goal of characterizing contaminants in fish tissue from places where historical data were lacking.

In 2009, a long-term monitoring component began with the goal of tracking contaminant levels in fish at selected sites over time to see if changes occur. Sampling is for chemicals such as mercury, PCBs, and chlorinated pesticides that triggered water clean-up actions.

Sites for long-term monitoring include Lake Chelan and the Snake, Spokane, and Wenatchee Rivers. New areas are added each year, and each site will be sampled every seven to ten years.

All of these fish-tissue studies help determine whether water quality standards are being met and inform the Washington State Department of Health and local health jurisdictions to guide fish-consumption advice. Other chemicals of concern may be addressed in the future.

Reports and Publications