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Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay: PCBs

This completed project assessed sources of contamination in fish from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). It evaluated whether TMDLs are the best option to reduce PCBs so it is safer to eat fish from area waterways.

photo of sampling in the houston ship channel
Sampling sediment in the
Houston Ship Channel
map of the Houston Ship channel and Galveston Bay PCB assessment watersheds

Counties: Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Galveston, Harris, Jackson, Matagorda, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria
Parameter: 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, 2432, 2438, 2439

On this page:

Background and Goals

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 50 on the DSHS web site .

PCBs are linked to increased rates of certain cancers in rats, mice and study animals, suggesting they probably increase cancer risks for humans. Dioxins in the Houston Ship Channel were assessed in a earlier project.

TCEQ completed two other closely related assessments: Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay PCBs Project and the Galveston Bay Survey of Dioxin and PCBs. Learn more about water quality standards and monitoring by reading Preserving and Improving Water Quality.

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Get Involved

The Houston-Galveston Area Council 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 included area residents and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, industry, and various local, state, and federal governments.

The H-GAC also coordinated 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.

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Reports and Other Documents

Quarterly Project Reports from Contractor

All quarterly reports are PDFs Adobe Acrobat PDF Document.

2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
September September September September n/a
n/a n/a June July n/a


March March March n/a
n/a December December December,

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Contact the TMDL Program

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

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Communities Working Together