Gulf seafood under the microscope

by Mary Tutwiler

The nose knows. Well maybe. But the sniff test for pollutants in Gulf seafood hasn't been the most reassuring way of ascertaining whether fish, crabs, shrimp and oysters from oil-afflicted waters are now safe to eat.

As recovery from the BP spill goes on, government and private research labs are testing for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, potential cancer causing substances, which, according to a story in the Associated Press, show up at low levels in seafood from other waters, and can accumulate in grilled foods.

Some seafood under the microscope is showing little contamination, according to the AP.

Basic biology is key: Some species clear oil contamination out of their bodies far more rapidly than others. Fish are the fastest, oysters and crabs the slowest, and shrimp somewhere in between. "I probably would put oysters at the top of the concern list and I don't think there's a close second," marine scientist George Crozier, who directs the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, told the AP.

Corexit, the dispersant used by BP is another health concern, but so far the has been no test developed to detect the chemical in seafood.

Check out the whole story for a series of questions and answers about the safety of Gulf seafood to help you make decisions of what, and when to eat.