NH DHHS - Public Health Laboratories Announce Award from the FDA for Scientific Collaboration on Fish Testing

Concord, NH – New Hampshire was recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) with the 2013

Scientific Collaboration of the Year award in a ceremony recently. The

award is in recognition of the work the New Hampshire Public Health Labs

(PHL) performed in partnership with Vermont and Massachusetts to test

freshwater fish for man-made radioisotopes.

The award noted the fish study as being “pro-active and excellent work in

collaboration with state partners for enhancing public health and safety.”

The PHL coordinated the fish sampling with the New Hampshire Fish and Game

Department and worked with the FDA Winchester Engineering Analytical Branch

(WEAC) laboratory for strontium-90 (Sr-90) testing.

Dr. Christine Bean, PHL Director, attended the ceremony and accepted the

award on behalf of the State of New Hampshire. “It is a great honor to be

recognized for all the hard work the Lab has put into this project and all

the effort by our staff on behalf of the citizens of New Hampshire,” said

Bean. “It has been a rewarding partnership among New Hampshire, Vermont,

and Massachusetts and hopefully this will help us respond to any future

threats we may face.”

Strontium-90 (Sr-90) is a radioactive isotope that is commonly part of

fallout from atmospheric nuclear bomb testing and the Chernobyl incident.

The vast majority of this radionuclide comes from weapons testing, and

fallout has resulted in Sr-90 becoming a part of the background environment

of radionuclides.

In 2010, the State of Vermont collected and tested a fish that was caught

in the Connecticut River approximately 8 miles upstream from the Vermont

Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. The fish was found to have a slightly elevated

level of Sr-90, although the level was below the FDA safe limit for fish

consumption. At this time, the three states recognized the need to define

the environmental levels of Sr-90 in fish. A multi-state project began to

evaluate these background levels in fish found in freshwater bodies in

Northern New England that are not connected to the Connecticut River and

therefore are not under the influence of the nuclear power plant. Knowing

these background levels will enable the states to compare findings to

levels that are expected.

For more information about testing and the NH Public Health Labs, visit

http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/lab/index.htm. To learn more about the DHHS

Radiological Health Program visit