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Farmed Salmon Tainted by Flame Retardants

Flame Retardants Found in Salmon Meat
Wed 11 August, 2004

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Farmed salmon, already found to carry higher levels
than wild salmon of chemicals such as PCBs, may also contain higher levels
of flame retardants, environmental researchers said on Wednesday.

However, some wild salmon also carry high levels of the chemicals in their
flesh and some wild Chinook have the highest levels of all, the team at
Indiana University reported.

Writing in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers
said they tested salmon meat for polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs,
which are used widely as flame-retardant additives in electronics and

Like PCBs and dioxin, they can build up in the flesh of animals and are
especially high in carnivores.

Indiana University's Ronald Hites and colleagues measured PBDEs in 700
samples of farmed and wild salmon from around the world. The same team
reported in January that they found high levels of chemicals in farmed
salmon and blamed the "salmon chow" fed to the fish.

Salmon chow is a mixture of ground-up fish and oil fed to farm-raised salmon
and scientists think it may be more likely to contain contaminated fish than
the variety of foods eaten by wild salmon.

There is disagreement over whether PBDEs are dangerous. But Hites said he
would be concerned.

"If you're a chemist and you draw the structure, they look a lot like PCBs,"
he said in a statement.

PCBs can cause cancer and reproductive, neurological and developmental

In September 2003, the Environmental Working Group, which reports on levels
of chemicals in the environment and other issues, said varying levels of
PBDEs could be found in human breast milk.

The European Union banned two of the three most common PBDE products this
year, and the state of California has banned two types of PBDEs beginning in
2008. Levels found in people's bodies are rising steadily.

The Bromine Science and Environmental Forum, which represents the industry,
said action was already being taken to phase out the most dangerous PBDEs.

"As the sole manufacturer of penta-BDE (Great Lakes Chemical Corporation
)has already announced to voluntarily cease production of this product by
Dec. 31, 2004, these levels are expected to soon plateau, reverse course,
and then decrease over time," it said in a statement.

Beginning next month, U.S. supermarkets will be required to put labels on
salmon telling whether the fish is farmed or wild.

Consumers are being urged by doctors and the U.S. government to eat fatty
fish such as salmon because of the high content of omega-3 fatty acids.
These compounds are key for brain and eye development and can lower the risk
of heart disease.