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Reducing Your Exposure to DDT and PCBs

Pollution in People Report - Chapter 6 - PCBs and DDT - section 5

Unless you live near an industrial or agricultural site contaminated with PCBs or DDT, your greatest source of exposure to these chemicals is likely to be food. While you cannot completely avoid these chemicals in your diet, you can make some choices that will help reduce your exposure to them.

The most important actions you can take to reduce the PCBs and DDT in your diet are to cut back on animal fats and watch the type of fish you eat.

Choose fish wisely. Check with state advisories before eating sport-caught fish or shellfish, which are often high in PCBs and DDT. Commercial fish that are high in PCBs include Atlantic or farmed salmon, bluefish, wild striped bass, white and Atlantic croaker, blackback or winter flounder, summer flounder, and blue crab. Commercial fish that contain higher levels of pesticides, including DDT, are bluefish, wild striped bass, American eel, and Atlantic salmon.

When preparing fish, remove the skin, trim the fat, and broil, bake, or grill the fish so that the fat drips away; this will reduce your exposure to PCBs and other toxic chemicals that have accumulated in fatty tissue. Fish are an excellent source of nutrients including protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, so don’t remove fish from your diet—but do be selective about the fish you eat.

Make your meat lean. When it comes to meat, choose lean meat cuts, and buy organic meats if possible. Cut off visible fat before cooking meat and choose lower-fat cooking methods: broiling, grilling, roasting or pressure-cooking. Avoid frying meat in lard, bacon grease, or butter.

Limit dairy fat
. Opt for low-fat, organic options when it comes to dairy products, too.

For more information on pollutants in fish, meats, and dairy, see:


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