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Galveston Bay System: A Survey of Dioxin and PCBs

A completed project to assess the distribution of dioxin and PCBs in the system and evaluate options for reducing them so it is safer to eat fish from the area waterways.

Counties: Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Galveston, Harris, Jackson, Matagorda, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria
Parameters: Dioxin and PCBs
Basins: Bays and Estuaries, Neches-Trinity Coastal, Trinity River, Trinity–San Jacinto Coastal, San Jacinto River, San Jacinto–Brazos Coastal
Segments: 0702, 0801, 1101, 1103, 1113, 2421, 2422, 2423, 2424, 2425, 2431, 2432, 2437, 2438, 2439, 2501

Background and Goals

Both dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are extremely persistent in the environment. In July 2008, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) advised people not to eat catfish species or spotted sea trout from the Galveston Bay system, including Chocolate Bay, East Bay, West Bay, Trinity Bay, and contiguous waters. The advisory was issued due to dioxin and PCBs found in fish tissue.

More information about the consumption advisory is available in Advisory 49 on the DSHS web site. Exit the TCEQ Overexposure to dioxin can cause a variety of harmful health problems, including cancer, birth defects, diabetes, developmental delays, and immune system abnormalities. PCBs are linked to increased rates of certain cancers in rats, mice and study animals, suggesting they probably increase cancer risks for humans.

This survey project collected and assessed data to determine the distribution of PCBs and dioxins throughout the bay system and evaluate options for reducing the contamination in fish.

Learn more about water quality standards and monitoring by reading Preserving and Improving Water Quality.

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Get Involved

The The Houston-Galveston Area CouncilExit the TCEQ coordinated public participation activities for this project in conjunction with two related projects for dioxin and PCBs in their area. Due to the lengthy and extremely technical nature of this project, the TCEQ convened a standing stakeholder group to work on this and two other closely related projects for PCBs and dioxin in the Houston–Galveston area. The group includes area residents and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, industry, and various local, state, and federal governments.

The H-GAC is also coordinating participation, as needed, with the Texas Clean Rivers Program Steering Committee and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the San Jacinto River Basin and associated coastal basins.

See more about the two related projects for Houston Ship Channel Dioxin and the Houston Ship Channel PCBs.

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  • 1905 Map of Galveston Bay
    This 1905 map of Galveston Bay Adobe Acrobat PDF Document (9.9 MB) was originally produced by the Corps of Engineers. An old paper copy was scanned to produce digital images; that was the only known copy of this map.

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Contact Us

Please e-mail us at, and put “Galveston Bay System dioxin and PCBs survey” in the subject line. Or call us at 512-239-6682.

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