San Francisco Bay Seafood Consumption Study

Project Timeline: 7/1/2002 - 6/30/2003

Studies have shown that many fish caught in San Francisco Bay contain elevated levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chemicals that can cause health problems. A health advisory by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment recommends that anglers limit the amount of Bay-caught fish they eat. However, little was known about populations that fish in the Bay. In 1998, Sequoia partnered with the Environmental Health Investigations Branch and the San Francisco Estuary Institute's Regional Monitoring Program to conduct a study of the people who fish from San Francisco Bay.

Between July 1998 and June 1999, Sequoia staff conducted over 150 visits to fishing sites, and interviewed over 1300 people in San Francisco Bay. Interviews were conducted in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and English. The study found that one in ten anglers who consume Bay fish eat more than the recommended limit. African Americans and Asians were more likely to eat above advisory limits compared to other groups. Asians were also more likely to eat the skin, increasing their exposure to chemicals. Overall, the study found that awareness and understanding of the health advisory was poor. About half of the anglers interviewed had not heard or seen information about the advisory.