Intake of certain foods that may contain high levels of PCBs and dioxins should be limited, especially for pregnant women and children. Both are known carcinogens that have been linked with increased risk for breast cancer. Although PCBs have been banned from production and use in the US since the 1970s, they remain in our environment, including our rivers and lakes. PCBs bioaccumulate, meaning they are more concentrated in predatory species than in prey, so they can be highly concentrated in fish at the top of the food chain.
If eating locally caught fish, eat smaller varieties such as bluegill, pumpkinseed, stream trout, smelt, and yellow perch. Limit consumption of fish that are fattier (and more likely to accumulate PCBs) like lake trout, or fish that are bottom dwellers like catfish. These latter species are more likely to be contaminated with chemicals including PCBs. Consult fish advisories published by the Environmental Protection Agency or state health and wildlife agencies before eating fish caught in local waters. Before heading to the fish counter, consult nonprofit groups that monitor contaminant levels in fish.
Some farmed salmon and sea bass have been shown to have particularly high levels of PCBs; opt for wild fish for these varieties.
In general, careful preparation and cooking can reduce the amount of PCBs consumed. Fillet fish by removing as much fat as possible. Also cook using methods such as baking or broiling in a pan with a rack, rather than frying frying may actually seal some of the toxic chemicals within the remaining fat of the fish, while other methods may ease the cooking off of natural fats, leading to the dripping out of accumulated chemicals.