EPA Guidance for Developing Fish Advisories
In addition to developing information for the general public on fish and shellfish consumption, EPA publishes a variety of guidance documents for state, local, regional, and tribal environmental health officials to help inform their fish advisories and safe eating guidelines.
EPA developed the Guidance for Assessing Chemical Contaminant Data for Use in Fish Advisories (EPA, 2000), Guidance for Conducting Fish Consumption Surveys, and associated Fish Consumption Survey Tool to help state, local, regional and tribal environmental health officials who are responsible for developing and managing fish consumption advisories. These documents are meant to provide guidance only and do not constitute a regulatory requirement.
The four-volume set on fish advisories provides guidance for assessing health risks associated with the consumption of chemically contaminated non-commercial fish. It is essential that all four documents be used together, since no single volume addresses all of the topics involved in the development of fish consumption advisories.
- Volume 1: Fish Sampling and Analysis, Third Edition (pdf) provides information on sampling strategies for a contaminant monitoring program. In addition, information is provided on selection of target species; selection of chemicals as target analytes; development of human health screening values; sample collection procedures including sample processing, sample preservation, and shipping; sample analysis; and data reporting and analysis.
Volume 2: Risk Assessment and Fish Consumption Limits, Third Edition (pdf)
provides guidance on the development of appropriate meal sizes and frequency of meal consumption (e.g., one meal per week) for the target analytes that bioaccumulate in fish tissues. In addition to the presentation of consumption limits, Volume 2 contains a discussion of risk assessment methods used to derive the consumption limits as well as a discussion of methods to modify these limits to reflect local conditions. Volume 2 also contains toxicological profiles for each of 25 target analytes.
NOTE: The equations for calculating consumption limits when there are multiple contaminants (Equations 3-12, 3-13, 3-14, 3-15, and 3-16) contain errors and are currently under revision.
- Volume 3: Risk Management (pdf) provides an overview of a risk management framework. This volume provides framework for selecting and implementing various options for reducing health risks associated with the consumption of chemically contaminated fish and shellfish. Using a human health risk-based approach, states can determine the level of the advisory and the most appropriate type of advisory to issue. Methods to evaluate population risks for specific groups, waterbodies, and geographic areas are also presented.
- Volume 4: Risk Communication provides states, territories, and tribes information on how to develop, implement, and evaluate a risk communication program in order to have clear and effective risk communication methods for fish and shellfish advisories, especially for high-risk groups.
- Guidance for Conducting Fish Consumption Surveys (pdf) (EPA, 2016): Provides guidance on the design, conduct, and analysis of surveys for estimating consumption rates of finfish and shellfish.
- Fish Consumption Survey Tool (FCST) (zip) is software for conducting computer-assisted personal interviews about eating fish. It is based on the paper version of a consumption survey developed by the Suquamish Nation and is described in detail in Appendix D of the guidance for conducting fish consumption surveys.
Regional Guidance and Surveys
- Great Lakes Protocols for Uniform Fish Advisories (Great Lakes Consortium)
The Great Lakes Consortium developed Protocols for Uniform Fish Advisories in order to provide Great Lakes states with consistent methods for determining fish consumption advice. Protocols are available for the following contaminants: PCBs, chlordane, mercury, and PFOS.
Report with Appendix A, Questionnaire for Fish Consumption Advisory Program (pdf)
- Appendix B, Questionnaire Response Database (pdf) (EPA, 2012): Provides summary results from a survey of state fish advisory program assessment methodologies, risk management approaches and risk communication procedures. Appendix A includes the survey questionnaire. Appendix B provides the summary of each state's response.
Survey on the Awareness and Effectiveness of the Mississippi Delta Fish Consumption Advisory (pdf)
Developed in cooperation with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- Fact Sheet (June 2012)
- Recommended Study Design for a Survey to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Mississippi Delta Fish Advisories (EPA, 2007)
Provides a survey instrument and recommended methodology for assessing the awareness and effectiveness of the Mississippi Delta Fish Consumption Advisory issued by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in 2001.
- Upper Mississippi River Fish Consumption Advisories - State Approaches (PDF) (Upper Mississippi River Basin Association, August 2005)
This report describe states’ existing approaches to sampling fish tissue, developing and issuing fish consumption advisories, and using those advisories in assessing water quality and listing impaired waters. Options for enhancing the consistency of fish consumption advisories on the Upper Mississippi River were identified and discussed at a 2005 workshop. Those discussions formed the basis for subsequent discussions at a May 23-24, 2005 consultation meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota. At that meeting, representatives from state agencies and EPA developed the conclusions and recommendations contained in this report.