Marine Environmental MonitoringEntry ID: gomc_128
Abstract: In the late 1980s, we initiated a project to assess the levels and
locations of toxic contaminants along the coast.
The project's immediate goals were
1. to gather sufficient information to enable us to define "normal"
environmental levels of certain toxic chemicals,
2. to determine whether levels pose an unacceptable risk to humans and/or
coastal marine life, and
3. to be able to discriminate between natural sources and human sources.
Purpose: The objective of our monitoring is to assess environmental health.
However, by reporting test results on popular seafood products, we risk
discouraging readers from eating seafood when most nutritionists and medical
professionals recommend a varied diet that includes fish and seafood. Seafood
is low in fats and cholesterol, is rich in minerals and vitamins, and contains
the beneficial ... omega-3-fatty acids. Several studies have shown that including
seafood in the diet is associated with a lower incidence of heart disease.
Whether or not levels of toxic contaminants are in the "normal" range is
generally unrelated to human health. "Normal" levels or some chemicals can be
toxic while conversely elevated levels of some contaminants may not be toxic.
Human health risk assessment uses a different method from that used to assess
The common blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, was selected as our primary tool to
assess Maine's coastal water quality. Mussels have been successfully used
around the region and world. The large data sets from these other programs
(NOAA & Gulfwatch) provide us a context to assess conditions in Maine.
Sponsor: Maine Department of Marine Resources
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
Additional Information OR Comments: Contact Lee Doggett or Jim Stalhnecke for
(Click for Interactive Map)
Start Date: 1989-01-01
Quality An accepted feature of all sample results is variability. For many reasons,
separate samples from the same areas yield slightly different results. Although
we try to eliminate as many of these reasons through standardization,
replication, quality assurance and quality control measures, some are
impractical if not impossible to eliminate. For example, mussels across the
... state and even at a given site are genetically different with different growth
rates, accumulation rates, etc. Even in the laboratory, analyses conducted on
different days are slightly different due to varying performance of equipment
and staff. Variability introduces uncertainty to the measurement making it
difficult to detect trends over time and differences between geographic areas.
Reducing variability costs money. Balancing costs with the degree of confidence
necessary to answer this program's objectives was confronted early on. We
elected to sacrifice "confidence" in favor of gathering information on more
areas of the coast as a first step. Many of the early data represent single
samples. These should be considered as screening data only and are often
adequate to provide a basis for additional monitoring. Results from single
samples, however, are not to be used to make management decisions because of
the uncertainty of what they represent.
Access Constraints None
Use Constraints None
Data Set Progress
Distribution Media: On line
Distribution Format: graphs
Distribution Media: On line
Distribution Format: tables
Role: DIF AUTHOR
Phone: (207) 287-6710
Email: susanne.k.meidel at maine.gov
Province or State: Maine
Postal Code: 04333-0017
Creation and Review Dates
DIF Creation Date: 2006-11-14
Last DIF Revision Date: 2007-06-27