The Palos Verdes Shelf, located off the coast of Los Angeles, is among the largest contaminated sediment sites in the United States. The contamination is a result of decades of DDT and PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) discharge into the Los Angeles County sewer system, which eventually emptied into the ocean off the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Although these chemicals are no longer in use, they remain in the ocean sediment extending into Santa Monica Bay and the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbors, with the highest concentration located off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. These chemicals have gotten into the fish off the coast of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. People are exposed to the chemicals when they catch and eat these fish. In addition, some of the contaminated fish have appeared in local markets for consumer purchase.
To address the disproportionate exposures to harmful chemicals faced by anglers and their families who catch and consume fish from the Los Angeles and Orange County Coasts, as well as various communities who are exposed to contaminated fish, US EPA developed the Fish Contamination Education Collaborative as a part of the Institutional Controls program.