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Contamination of U.S. coastal areas may be decreasing as a result of environmental regulations that have banned or curtailed toxic chemicals, concludes a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report, “Recent Trends in Coastal Environmental Quality: Results from the Mussel Watch Project,” presents results of analyzing chemical concentrations found in mussel and oyster tissues collected every year since 1986.

These mollusks are collected once a year at more than 240 sites nationwide and analyzed for over 70 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, chlorinated pesticides, butyltins, and toxic trace elements such as copper, cadmium, and lead. The report states that from 1986 to 1993 there were many more decreases than increases in chemical concentrations in coastal regions. These decreasing trends were not unexpected; all of the monitored chlorinated hydrocarbons have been banned for use in the United States, and tributyltin has been banned as a biocide on recreational boats.