Washington, D.C. Some good news from the government scientists who study pollution in U.S. coastal waters: A newly released 20-year study shows overall levels of pesticides and industrial chemicals are generally decreasing.
The Mussel Watch program of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration examined levels of 140 chemicals from 1986 to 2005 in coastal areas and estuaries of Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the East and West coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. Mussel Watch is the longest continuous contaminant monitoring program in U.S. coastal waters.
Gunnar Lauenstein, an oceanographer who's the lead scientist of the program, said the levels are continuing to decrease, many years after environmental laws were enacted in the 1970s.
The pesticide DDT shows significant decreasing trends around the country, even in Southern California, which had the heaviest concentrations, Lauenstein said. Industrial chemicals, such as PCBs, a material used in electrical products, including transformers, also show declines.