Human Health Risks Summary

In the early 1970s, the Clean Water Act set a national goal for the country’s bodies of water to be swimmable and fishable. While much of Galveston Bay’s seafood is safe to eat, a long history of toxic contamination in the Bay has led to seafood consumption advisories for some species in certain areas. Recurring high levels of bacteria, especially in the streams and bayous that flow to Galveston Bay, have also triggered restrictions on oyster harvesting and primary contact recreation.

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What We Can do

Seafood Consumption

Galveston Bay’s commercial fishery is the most productive of all the bays in Texas, contributing more than 40% of the Texas annual commercial harvest. While Seafood Consumption Advisories for fish captured in Galveston Bay do exist in some areas of the Bay, the vast majority of seafood harvested from the Bay is safe to eat.  Toxic contaminants enter the Bay’s food web through biomagnification. Additionally, bacteria can be found in shellfish such as oysters, making raw or partially cooked shellfish a risk for people with compromised immune systems. As is the case in many estuaries around the US, seafood harvested commercially and recreationally from Galveston Bay can be enjoyed by many. It is important to learn about risk factors, especially for children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and people with existing health issues.

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Seafood Consumption Safety

Don't assume that all seafood from Galveston Bay is unsafe to eat

Seafood Consumption Advisories

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What We Can do

Watch What You Eat


Galveston Bay Seafood Consumption Advisories


Rivers and Bayous Grade


With the high number or people and pets living in the area, and an aging sewage infrastructure, bacteria and viruses from humans and other warm-blooded animals can cause illness and infection in  those who come into contact with the water. In 2015, bacteria concentrations exceeded screening levels in 18 percent of samples collected from Galveston Bay, indicating that the risk of bacterial infection while swimming in the open waters of the Bay remained low. However, swimming in the rivers, streams, and bayous upstream from Galveston Bay may be discouraged, as 42 percent of samples collected in those areas exceeded screening levels in 2015. Check the map of High Swim Risk Waterways below.

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High Swim Risk Waterways

Where is it safest to swim?

Bacteria in Water

What’s the risk in your watershed?

What We Can do

Keep Galveston Bay Fun


Galveston Bay Water Recreation Safety


Galveston Bay Rivers and Bayous

Want more? Check the grades on other Indicators.

Water Quality
Pollution Events & Sources
Human Health Risk
Coastal Change