Safe & Healthy Foods
Benefits & Risks of Seafood Consumption
Fish and seafood provide a low-fat, protein-rich diet, and in the Pacific Northwest, fish is an important part of many cultures. Yet some fish can be high in contaminants such as methylmercury and some shellfish by domoic acid.
Risk management is a tool to find the balance between healthy and unhealthy fish consumption. The department’s Institute for Risk Analysis and Risk Communication and its new Pacific Northwest Center for Human Health and Ocean Studies are studying these issues.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are cornerstones of the food pyramid, yet parents worry about their children's exposure to pesticides. Their high metabolic rates, and developing nervous systems make children particularly vulnerable.
Departmental researchers have found that organic fruits, vegetables, and juice can reduce children's exposure levels to below US EPA guidelines, where risks are negligible. Do small amounts of pesticides affect health? This complex question is being addressed by a broad scientific community, including researchers at the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center and the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit .
In southern China, Southeast Asia, and parts of Central Africa, corn and peanuts are dietary staples, but are commonly contaminated by a mold that produces a highly toxic carcinogenic chemical known as "aflatoxin B1" (AFB), which has been linked to liver cancer. Studies from Professor David Eaton’s laboratory and others around the world have shown that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage can "turn on" a latent AFB detoxifying gene in rat livers, offering remarkable protection against AFB. Eaton’s laboratory is working to identify which specific natural chemicals in these vegetables are responsible for turning on the "switch" and whether the switch is present in the human liver.
Centers and Institutes
- Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center
- Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit
- NIOSH Agricultural Centers
- National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety
- Goodfruit Grower Magazine
- US Department of Agriculture
- Committee on the Ocean’s Role in Human Health (1999)Monsoons to Microbes. National Research Council
- Northwest Fisheries Science Center Domoic Acid Poisoning
- Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council
- Washington State Department of Health press releases regarding domoic acid closures: