Risk-based consumption advice for farmed Atlantic and wild Pacific salmon contaminated with dioxins and dioxin-like compounds

Environ Health Perspect. 2005 May;113(5):552-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.7626.


We reported recently that several organic contaminants occurred at elevated concentrations in farmed Atlantic salmon compared with concentrations of the same contaminants in wild Pacific salmon [Hites et al. Science 303: 226-229 (2004)]. We also found that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxaphene, dieldrin, dioxins, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers occurred at higher concentrations in European farm-raised salmon than in farmed salmon from North and South America. Health risks (based on a quantitative cancer risk assessment) associated with consumption of farmed salmon contaminated with PCBs, toxaphene, and dieldrin were higher than risks associated with exposure to the same contaminants in wild salmon. Here we present information on cancer and noncancer health risks of exposure to dioxins in farmed and wild salmon. The analysis is based on a tolerable intake level for dioxin-like compounds established by the World Health Organization and on risk estimates for human exposure to dioxins developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Consumption of farmed salmon at relatively low frequencies results in elevated exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds with commensurate elevation in estimates of health risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Aquaculture*
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Diet
  • Dioxins / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Food Contamination*
  • Humans
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Public Health
  • Risk Assessment
  • Salmon*


  • Dioxins
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls