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Fish Consumption Advisories
 

Arizona and Utah announce fish consumption advisory (striped bass) for mercury in southern Lake Powell

Posted Oct. 25, 2012 - The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, in association with other environmental, health and wildlife agencies for both Arizona and Utah (including the Arizona Game and Fish Department), has issued a fish consumption advisory recommending that people limit consumption of striped bass caught in the southern portion of Lake Powell, from Dangling Rope Marina in Utah to Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona.

Since 2005, the state of Utah has collected and analyzed tissue samples from fish caught from Lake Powell for elevated levels of mercury. The advisory recommends that members of the public limit their consumption of striped bass as follows:

  • Pregnant women and children under six years of age should limit their consumption of striped bass to one 4-ounce meal per month.
  • Women of childbearing age and children between 6 to 16 years of age should limit their consumption of striped bass to two 8-ounce meals per month.
  • Adult women past childbearing age and men older than 16 of age should limit their consumption of striped bass to eight 8-ounce meals per month.

The advisory does not limit the consumption of other fish species taken from Lake Powell or the use of the lake for swimming, boating or other recreational uses or as a drinking water source.

Any health risks associated with eating fish from fish advisory areas are based on long-term consumption rates and are not tied to eating fish occasionally. Fish are an excellent source of protein and can be an important part of a healthy, diverse diet as they are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals eat at least two fish or seafood meals weekly.  An 8-ounce serving, before cooking, is equivalent to the size of two decks of playing cards.

“Consuming fish that contain mercury is the most common method of human exposure to mercury,” said ADEQ Director Henry Darwin. “While we continue to work to reduce mercury pollution in Arizona’s bodies of water, these fish consumption advisories are an important part of our effort to protect public health.”

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be transformed into methylmercury, a toxic form found in some natural waters. Those most vulnerable to the effects of mercury toxicity include women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children. Chronic exposure to low concentrations of methylmercury in fish may result in neurological effects in the developing fetus and children.

Because mercury has been detected in some fish from Lake Powell, it is prudent to advise the public and offer this consumption advisory. ADEQ officials are continuing to work with the state of Utah to identify the sources of mercury. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

In addition to Lake Powell, fish consumption advisories for mercury remain in place for the following bodies of water in Arizona: Alamo Lake, Arivaca Lake, Coors Lake, Lake Pleasant, Long Lake, Lower Lake Mary, Lyman Lake, Parker Canyon Lake, Pena Blanca Lake, Roosevelt Lake, Soldier Lake, Soldier Annex Lake, Tonto Creek and, Upper Lake Mary.

For more information:

ADEQ's fish consumption advisory fact sheet:

www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/assessment/download/fca.pdf

ADEQ's Frequently Asked Questions about Lake Powell's fish consumption advisory:

www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/assessment/download/fish-powell_faq.pdf

EPA’s consumption advisories:

www.epa.gov/mercury/advisories.htm.

For fish consumption advisories for other waterbodies in Arizona, scroll down this page.

Additional information:

The following information has been compiled from a number of qualified health sources, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Food and Drug Administration) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (see http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/admehg3.html):

Fresh caught fish from Arizona’s lakes, rivers and streams can be an important part of a healthy diet. Fish contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish can contribute to heart health and children's proper growth and development.

So, women and young children in particular should include fish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits.

However, nearly all fish contain traces of mercury. For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system.

The risks from mercury in fish depends on the amount eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

By following these three recommendations for selecting and eating fish or shellfish, women and young children will receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury.

(1) Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

(2) Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

  • Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
  • Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.


(3) Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.

Follow these same recommendations when feeding fish and shellfish to your young child, but serve smaller portions.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish:

This information comes from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (see http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/admehg3.html):

"What is mercury and methylmercury?"

Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and can also be released into the air through industrial pollution. Mercury falls from the air and can accumulate in streams and oceans and is turned into methylmercury in the water. It is this type of mercury that can be harmful to your unborn baby and young child. Fish absorb the methylmercury as they feed in these waters and so it builds up in them. It builds up more in some types of fish and shellfish than others, depending on what the fish eat, which is why the levels vary.

"I'm a woman who could have children but I'm not pregnant - so why should I be concerned about methylmercury?"

If you regularly eat types of fish that are high in methylmercury, it can accumulate in your blood stream over time. Methylmercury is removed from the body naturally, but it may take over a year for the levels to drop significantly. Thus, it may be present in a woman even before she becomes pregnant. This is the reason why women who are trying to become pregnant should also avoid eating certain types of fish.

"Is there methylmercury in all fish and shellfish?"

Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of methylmercury. However, larger fish that have lived longer have the highest levels of methylmercury because they've had more time to accumulate it. These large fish (swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish) pose the greatest risk. Other types of fish and shellfish may be eaten in the amounts recommended by FDA and EPA.

"I don't see the fish I eat in the advisory. What should I do?"

If you want more information about the levels in the various types of fish you eat, see the FDA food safety website www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html or the EPA website at www.epa.gov/ost/fish.

"What about fish sticks and fast food sandwiches?"

Fish sticks and "fast-food" sandwiches are commonly made from fish that are low in mercury.

"The advice about canned tuna is in the advisory, but what's the advice about tuna steaks?"

Because tuna steak generally contains higher levels of mercury than canned light tuna, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of tuna steak per week.

"What if I eat more than the recommended amount of fish and shellfish in a week?"

One week's consumption of fish does not change the level of methylmercury in the body much at all. If you eat a lot of fish one week, you can cut back for the next week or two. Just make sure you average the recommended amount per week.

"Where do I get information about the safety of fish caught recreationally by family or friends?"

Before you go fishing, check your Fishing Regulations Booklet (or check the agency’s Web site for the latest updates) for information about recreationally caught fish. You can also contact your local health department for information about local advisories. You need to check local advisories because some kinds of fish and shellfish caught in your local waters may have higher or much lower than average levels of mercury. This depends on the levels of mercury in the water in which the fish are caught. Those fish with much lower levels may be eaten more frequently and in larger amounts.

For further information about the risks of mercury in fish and shellfish call the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's food information line toll-free at 1-888-SAFEFOOD or visit FDA's Food Safety website www.cfsan.fda.gov/seafood1.html

For further information about the safety of locally caught fish and shellfish, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's Fish Advisory website www.epa.gov/ost/fish or contact your State or Local Health Department, such as the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality www.azdeq.gov.  A list of state or local health department contacts is available at www.epa.gov/ost/fish. For information on EPA's actions to control mercury, visit EPA's mercury website at www.epa.gov/mercury.

 

Fish Consumption Advisories for Other Arizona Lakes

 

Location: Lake Pleasant.
Pollutant & Source: The pollutant of concern is mercury and the sources are under investigation.
Advisory: Largemouth bass;
· Children under the age of six - no consumption
· Woman of child-bearing age and children between the ages of 6 and 16 - one 8-ounce fish meal per month
· All other adult woman - Same consumption rate as for women of child-bearing age unless a physician supports a higher rate
· Adult men (16 years or older) - five 8-ounce meals per month
 
Location: Roosevelt Lake.
Pollutant & Source: The pollutant of concern is mercury and the sources are under investigation.
Advisory: Largemouth bass and channel catfish;
· Children under the age of six - no consumption
· Woman of child-bearing age and children between the ages of 6 and 16 - one 8-ounce fish meal per month
· Pregnant woman - Consume largemouth bass below 13 inches at the same consumption rate advised for women of child-bearing age
· All other adult woman - Same consumption rate as for women of childbearing age unless a physician supports a higher rate
· Adult men (16 years or older) - five 8-ounce meals per month
 
Location: Alamo Lake, Mohave and LaPaz Counties.
Pollutant & Source: The pollutant of concern is mercury and the sources are under investigation.
Advisory: Largemouth bass and black crappie;
· Children under the age of six - no consumption
· Woman of child-bearing age - one 8-ounce fish meal per month
· All other adult woman - three 8 ounce meals per month
· Adult men - four 8-ounce meals per month

Channel catfish:
· Children under the age of six - no consumption
· Woman of child-bearing age - one 8-ounce fish meal per month
· All other adult woman - five 8 ounce meals per month
· Adult men - six 8-ounce meals per month
 
Location: Tonto Creek, Gila County, between Hellsgate Wilderness (located one mile downstream of Bear Flat Campground) and its confluence with Roosevelt Lake.
Pollutant & Source: The pollutant of concern is mercury and the sources are under investigation.
Advisory: Do not consume smallmouth and largemouth bass, green sunfish, and black bullhead catfish caught from this section of Tonto Creek. For common carp, consumption should be limited as follows:
· Children under the age of six - no consumption
· Those between 6-16 years of age: one 8-ounce fish meal per month
· Those over 16 years of age: two 8-ounce fish meals per month
The advisory does not limit the consumption of trout taken from this section of Tonto Creek.
 
Location: Coors Lake, Yavapai County near Bagdad.
Pollutant & Source:The pollutant of concern is mercury.
Advisory: Largemouth bass;
· Children under the age of six - no consumption
· Woman of child-bearing age - one 8-ounce fish meal per month
· All other adult woman - three 8 ounce meals per month
· Adult men - four 8-ounce meals per month

Bluegill and Black crappie; there are no limits on consumption.
 
Location: The Salt and Gila River from 59th Avenue down to and including the Painted Rocks Borrow Pit Lake, and the lower portion of the Hassayampa River Maricopa County
Pollutant & Source: DDT metabolites, toxaphene,dieldrin and chlordane pesticide Contaminated due to the historic use of these banned pesticides
Advisory: Do not consume fish and other aquatic organisms
 
Location: Dysart Drain (canal drains to the Agua Fria River on the west side of Phoenix metro area) Maricopa County
Pollutant & Source: DDT metabolitesContaminated due to historic use of banned DDT (banned in Arizona since 1969)
Advisory: Do not consume fish and other aquatic organisms
 
Location: Arivaca Lake, Pima County
Pollutant & Source: Mercury. Potential sources include atmospheric deposition, historic dumping and naturally mineralized soils
Advisory: Do not consume fish and other aquatic organisms
 
Location: Peņa Blanca Lake, Santa Cruz County
Pollutant & Source: Mercury. Historic ore milling and amalgamation process on the watershed.
Advisory: Do not consume fish and other aquatic organisms. Trout are not included in this advisory
 
Location: Upper and Lower Lake Mary, Coconino County
Pollutant & Source: Mercury. Sources to be investigated.
Advisory: Do not consume walleye and limit consumption of other fish to one 8-ounce fillet per month. Trout are not included in this advisory.
 
Location: Parker Canyon Lake, Cochise County
Pollutant & Source: Mercury. Sources to be investigated.
Advisory: Pregnant women, woman who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, children under the age of 16: No consumption. Women not in above categories: Consult health care provider. Adult men (16 yrs. or older), three fish meals per month.
Trout are not included in this advisory.
 
Location: Lyman Lake, Apache County
Pollutant & Source: Mercury. Sources to be investigated.
Advisory: Children under the age of 6 no consumption. Women of childbearing age and children under the age of 16, one fish meal per month. Women not in above categories, consult health care provider. Adult men (16 yrs. or older) five fish meals per month.
 
Location: Soldier Lake, Coconino County
Pollutant & Source: Mercury. Sources to be investigated.
Advisory: Do not consume fish.
 
Location: Soldier Annex, Coconino County
Pollutant & Source: Mercury. Sources to be investigated.
Advisory: Do not consume fish.
 
Location: Long Lake, Coconino County
Pollutant & Source: Mercury. Sources to be investigated.
Advisory: Do not consume fish. Trout are not included in this advisory.
 
One meal equals 8 ounce uncooked weight
Updated July 2011
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