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Orange County Digest

Newport Beach : Water Quality Report Lists DDT Levels in Bay

January 22, 1986|Kenneth F. Bunting \f7

An annual report issued by state water quality monitors in Sacramento on Tuesday shows that Newport Bay still contains elevated levels of toxic pollutants, but local health officials said the findings are no cause for alarm.

Most prevalent in tests on shellfish and sediment in the bay was the banned pesticide DDT. But the levels recorded were well below public health standards set by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

"Based on our evaluation . . . we see only a slight increase in the concentrations at a few of our sample stations," said Steven K. Wong, assistant environmental health director for Orange County.

"Even the highest number is well below the public health standards set by the FDA and the National Academy of Sciences guidelines. We'd like to see nothing, but the numbers we see at this point don't alarm us tremendously."

The findings were in the state Water Resources Control Board's annual "Mussel Watch." The report contains no analysis, just the results of the annual tests.

Under the annual monitoring project, which began in 1977, mussels from the largely unpolluted waters of Northern California are transplanted into the bay for several months, then harvested during the winter and tested for pollutants.

The report shows that DDT levels in the transplanted shellfish were measured at .37 parts per million at Bay Island, contrasted with .60 ppm a year ago; .22 ppm at Crows Nest near the bay's southwestern tip, contrasted with .20 ppm, and .19 ppm at the Upper Rhine monitoring station near the bay's northwestern tip, the same level as recorded in the 1984-85 study.

The report also shows readings of .16 ppm in native mussels taken near the bay's entrance channel, a slight increase; .14 ppm in native mussels taken near the Coast Highway bridge, a slight decrease, and .80 ppm in freshwater clams taken near the MacArthur Boulevard bridge.

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