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EPA-Expo-Box (A Toolbox for Exposure Assessors)

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Aquatic Biota



Contaminated media to which people might be exposed include air, water and sediment, soil and dust, food, aquatic biota, and consumer products. Aquatic biota (fish and shellfish) can become contaminated as a result of chemical input to water bodies and subsequent uptake and accumulation in muscle, fat, and other tissues. Inputs to water can occur from direct or indirect discharges, deposition of ambient pollutants in the air, erosion of soil and runoff flow, resuspension of chemicals from sediments, and other processes. Human exposure to contaminants in aquatic biota can occur by direct ingestion. Various tools are available for evaluating sources and releases of contaminants to aquatic biota, fate and transport processes, and potential exposure concentrations. Exposure factors, calculation tools, and guidance for assessing exposure to contaminants in aquatic biota are also discussed in this module.

Information about ecological resources can be found on EPA’s website at:

Information and interactive maps on fish advisories and fish tissue data are available here:

Federal, state, and tribal links to National Listing of Fish Advisories (NLFA) contacts are provided here:

U.S. Geological Survey information on aquatic resources can be found at:

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