The Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern (AOC) has been impacted by toxic pollutants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals. During 2017-2019, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services conducted a biomonitoring study with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to examine contaminant exposures among Milwaukee urban anglers who consumed locally sport-caught fish. Questionnaires were administered to licensed anglers living within the Milwaukee AOC, and blood and urine samples were obtained for contaminant analysis. We conducted multivariable logistic regression analyses to examine associations with fish consumption, awareness of fish advisories, and protective behaviors. Contaminant concentrations among participants were compared to the U.S. population levels in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Respondents completed the questionnaire (n=396) and provided biological samples (n=390). The median age was 51 years, and the majority were male (81%) and non-Hispanic white (81%). Most respondents were aware of safe-eating guidelines for fish caught in the Milwaukee AOC (63%) or Wisconsin (75%), but fewer than half reported close adherence to guidelines. Women and black respondents were less aware of Wisconsin and Milwaukee advisories than men and white respondents, respectively. Geometric mean concentrations of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), PCBs, and mercury were higher than NHANES estimates. Most anglers in the Milwaukee AOC did not reduce sport-caught fish consumption to avoid exposure to contaminants in Milwaukee waterways. Milwaukee urban anglers had higher PFOS, PCB, and mercury concentrations than those in U.S. adults. Further research is needed to examine the factors influencing anglers’ adherence to safe-eating guidelines.
Key words: Urban anglers, fish consumption, contaminants, biomonitoring, fish advisories.
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