Fish Consumption Advisory for Coors Lake
Feb 13, 2003

For questions about human health:
Patrick Gibbons, Communications Director: (602) 771-2215
Sina Matthes, Media Relations Assistant: (602) 771-4142

For questions about sport-fish and lake health:
Larry Riley, (602) 789-3258
Marc Dahlberg (623) 236-7260
Biologists, Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Coors Lake Advisory FAQ's [PDF, 77kb]

PHOENIX - Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens announced today that the departments of Environmental Quality, Game and Fish and Health Services are recommending that people not eat certain fish caught from Coors Lake, located in the town of Bagdad in Yavapai County.

ADEQ recently discovered unhealthful levels of mercury in fish caught at those lakes.
The advisory recommends that people limit consumption of largemouth bass as follows:

Children under the age of six: No consumption
Women of child bearing age: One 8 oz. fish meal per month
All other adult women Three 8 oz. fish meals per month
Adult men: Four 8 oz. fish meals per month

No consumption limits are expected to be set for bluegill or black crappie caught from the lake.

Mercury is a toxic pollutant that has been identified as causing numerous health problems when ingested, most notably its toxicity to the central nervous system. Infants and pregnant or nursing mothers are considered most at risk to possible health effects.

"Consuming fish contaminated with mercury is the most common method of human exposure," Owens said. "While we continue our efforts to eliminate the introduction of mercury into the environment, these advisories serve as a first line of defense for protecting public health."

The advisory does not limit use of the lakes for fishing, bird watching, swimming or other recreational uses. Mercury is quickly absorbed by bacteria in sediments and passed along via the food chain to living organisms. Typically, very little mercury remains in the water.

The problem of fish contaminated by high levels of mercury occurs when larger fish absorb mercury from smaller fish and insects which have become contaminated, a process called bioaccumulation. Average concentrations of 0.3 - 0.6 milligrams per kilogram (mg/Kg) found throughout a lake will typically result in a fish consumption advisory being issued for the water body.

Fish consumption advisories remain in place for 12 lakes throughout the state, including recent additions. Other lakes under advisory include Upper and Lower Lake Mary, Lyman Lake, Pena Blanca Lake, Soldier Lake, Soldier Annex and Long Lake.

ADEQ officials are continuing to test the lake to identify the source of contamination.

The advisories will remain in effect until further notice.