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National Coastal Condition Assessment Great Lakes Human Health Fish Tissue Studies

Man holding a fish in his hands
Great Lakes fish sampler holding a Lake Trout
The National Coastal Condition Assessments (NCCA) are statistical surveys designed to assess the condition of nearshore waters along the marine and Great Lakes coasts of the United States and to evaluate changes affecting the quality of these waters over time. EPA works with state, tribal, and federal partners to plan and conduct these surveys every five years. The surveys involve the application of standardized field sampling methods for collection of various water quality and biological samples from randomly selected sampling sites and the use of consistent laboratory methods for analysis of each type of sample. The results from these analyses produce chemical, physical, and biological data that provide a snapshot of the overall condition of the nation’s coastal waters during the sampling period for each survey. More information about the NCCA.

EPA conducts fish tissue contamination studies in the Great Lakes as part of the NCCA. Field crews collect fish for these studies that are commonly caught by recreational fishers. Laboratories analyze the levels of chemical contaminants in fillet (muscle) tissue samples and deliver the data to EPA. EPA uses the fillet sample results to evaluate the potential health impacts for people who eat fish.

EPA has conducted the following studies as part of the NCCA: