By Doug Ireland
---- — NEWTON — State environmental officials have issued an advisory for Country Pond, warning people they should limit their consumption of fish because of chemical contamination.
The town was notified by the state Department of Environmental Services that testing of the pond showed highly toxic levels of chemicals, Newton health officer Robert Leverone said.
Fish from the pond are safe to eat, but in limited quantities, especially for those who enjoy bass. No one should eat more than a single meal of bass in a given month, according to DES.
Country Pond is a popular fishing spot and the site of an ice fishing derby each winter.
“The state is going to go out and post notices at Country Pond and sites along Country Pond,” Leverone said. “We’re trying to educate people the best we can.”
The chemicals are known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
Their manufacture has been banned since 1979, according to DES official Andrew Hoffman.
The PCBs may be linked to the nearby Ottati & Goss/Great Lakes Container Corp site in Kingston, where steel drums containing chemicals were dumped for years, Hoffman said.
“We could not say that definitively, the state does not have any determination,” he said. “But you couldn’t rule out that any of this is related to that site.”
The Superfund site, along Route 125, was used for the storage and recycling of steel chemical drums from the late 1950s through 1981. The drums were emptied at the site and cleaned with chlorinated solutions that also were dumped there, Hoffman said.
The EPA removed approximately 4,300 drums of chemical waste from the site in October 1981. Cleanup at the site has occurred over three decades.
The state has tested the pond for years, but believed the fish were safe for consumption, especially since the PCB concentrations had dropped since the 1980s.
Low levels of PCBs are commonly found in lakes and ponds, but usually don’t pose a health threat unless consumed in excessive amounts, Hoffman said.
A recent review of fish tissue sampling conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 showed the toxicity of some dioxin-like PCBs had increased, Hoffman said.
As a result, Hoffman, said women of child-bearing age and children up to age 6 should eat no more than six meals of largemouth and smallmouth bass per year and no more than one meal in a single month. There was previously no yearly limit, he said.
For all other fish species in the pond, those individuals should eat no more than a single meal in a month, he said.
All other adults and children 7 and older should eat no more than six meals of bass per year, but can eat up to 21 meals per year of other fish species, Hoffman said.
It had been recommended they eat no more than four servings of fish from the pond per month.