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Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (BS)
Department of Integrated Science and Technology
Currently, 72.2% of the Chesapeake Bay is impaired due to pollutants that impaired water quality. Some common pollutants in the Bay that are also toxic if consumed are: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, and lead. Pollutants tend to settle on the Bay floor and become accumulate in the sediment. Most shellfish and small finfish live near or on the Bay floor and are may be exposed to high levels of pollutants. Therefore, bioaccumulation and biomagnification of pollutants can occur in shellfish and finfish tissues. These pollutants may cause a risk to human health by either increasing the risk of developing cancer or through systemic toxicity. Blue crabs were collected from James Madison University’s property in Bluff Point, Virginia and sent to REIC Lab in Verona, Virginia to be analyzed for PCBs, mercury, and lead. Data from Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality’s Fish Tissue Monitoring Program was also analyzed. Using the concentrations of lead, mercury, and PCBs in the blue crab tissue, a risk assessment was done to determine the human health risks of consuming blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay. The results show that consumption of blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay can cause an increased risk of developing cancer due to PCBs and a risk of systemic toxicity from lead.
Shipman, Caitlin M., "Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs and Consumption Related Illness" (2015). Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current. 60.