Press Release

Maryland Department of the Environment

Scrap Tire Playground Construction Project in Montgomery County Needs Volunteers
BALTIMORE (April 5, 1999) -- The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Maryland Environmental Service (MES) are seeking volunteers to help build a unique scrap tire playground this month at Seneca Creek State Park, in Gaithersburg, Montgomery County. The project, which has been designed by Learning Structures Inc., of Portsmouth, N.H., will recycle scrap tires in the playground&'s structures and ground cover. Construction of the project will begin Thursday, April 15, and be completed on Saturday, April 17. Construction activities will begin each day at 8 a.m. Teams of volunteers will construct the playground using scrap tires and lumber. Lunch and T-shirts will be provided to participants. The project is being funded through MDE's Used Tire Cleanup and Recycling Fund. The fund is generated from the collection of one dollar for every new tire sold in Maryland. MDE uses the funds for scrap tire cleanup, projects and for implementation of a licensing program. MES is managing the design, materials placement and construction of the playground. DNR is providing the playground site and is coordinating with local communities to secure the equipment. Similar playgrounds have been built at Patapsco Valley, Gunpowder Falls, Cunningham Falls, Calvert Cliffs, Tuckahoe and Dan's Mountain state parks. These playgrounds are popular recreational attractions. Volunteers of all skill levels are needed to make this project a success, from experienced carpenters to beginners. For more information, contact :
Abigail Pascual of MDE at (410) 537-3315
Darren Fischer of MES at (410) 974-7254
Ranger Dorothy Kengla of DNR at (301) 924-2127


BALTIMORE (April 19, 1999) - The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) today announced that large channel catfish, eel and carp caught in the tidal
Potomac between the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and a line between Smith Point, Maryland and Brent Point, Virginia, may be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a suspected human carcinogen. The advisory pertains to only
these species and therefore the vast majority of Chesapeake Bay seafood continues to provide a safe and healthy food that is high in protein and low in fat.

To protect public health, MDE issued a three part advisory: first, the general public should limit the consumption of
large channel catfish (greater than 18-inches in length) from this area to not more than one 8-ounce meal per month.
Second, although there is no recent data to support a normal advisory against eating large eel and carp, MDE cautions against consuming too many of these fish caught in the affected waters, because the feeding habits of carp and eel are similar to those of channel catfish. Smaller channel catfish and other species are not affected by the advisory.
Third, infants, children and women of childbearing age are cautioned to avoid eating these fish because they are more susceptible to the effects of PCB contamination. MDE advises that these fish should not be used as a substantial part of the daily diet. This advisory is limited in nature, directed toward recreational fishermen, and is specific to the three species identified. CCommercial fisheries are not affected.

To further reduce the health risk, it is recommended that individuals who continue to consume these fish should remove
the skin, dark meat and the belly flap because PCBs concentrate in the fatty portions of the fish. The fish should be broiled or baked in a tray that allows the fat to run off and the drippings discarded. The advisory is based on the possibility that long-term consumption of PCB-contaminated fish may increase the risk of cancer in humans. Studies have shown that PCBs have the potential for causing cancer in laboratory animals. Although studies have not conclusively demonstrated that PCBs cause cancer in humans, EPA considers the evidence suggestive and categorizes PCBs as probable human carcinogens. The increased risk that is estimated from a lifetime of fish consumption at the rate of one meal per month is less than 10 additional cancer cases in 100,000 people. To give this value some perspective, it can be compared to a lifetime cancer risk for someone sharing an office with a smoker, which is 700 in 100,000. Although preliminary data are limited, reduced consumption of American eel and carp is
recommended because these two species are have feeding habits similar to those of channel catfish. MDE plans to investigate these two species more thoroughly. When these data become available, the department will examine the findings and issue a revised advisory as appropriate. PCBs, which have not been produced in the United States since 1977, have been used as coolants and lubricants in a variety
of electrical applications including transformers and capacitors. PCBs remain in the environment because they do not readily decompose. Instead, they bind to sediments where sediment-dwelling organisms can be exposed to and accumulate them. Fish that consume these organisms will in turn accumulate the PCBs. Larger fish tend to accumulate more of these materials than smaller ones. Based on currently available information, these recommended consumption levels will protect public health. MDE is collecting additional data to refine its risk estimates and may modify this preliminary advisory when these data become available. The Department will attempt to identify sources and work cooperatively with surrounding jurisdictions to develop appropriate management plans.