Anglers who fish local waterways for a prize catch may want to watch which fish — and how many — they consume, according to a report issued this week by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The department's annual fish consumption advisory listed two local waterways with elevated levels of mercury found in largemouth bass and a third waterway with elevated levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS.
"The recommendation of a fish consumption advisory does not necessarily mean that the waters under advisory are unsafe for recreation,” the report said. “Fish bioaccumulate contaminants in their tissues to concentrations that are sometimes hundreds to thousands times greater than the concentration of the contaminant in the waters they inhabit. Activities such as swimming, boating, or catch-and-release fishing in waters that have fish consumption advisories are considered to be safe.”
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources collected and tested samples of specific fish species from various waterbodies throughout the state during the fall of 2017 (421 samples; 36 collection stations). ADPH assessed the results to determine whether any of the tested contaminants may be harmful to humans.
Mercury builds up in the tissue or muscle of the fish and can also build up in human tissue if mercury tainted-fish is consumed. Too much exposure to mercury may cause heart problems in adults. Therefore, the department recommends the following limits on fish:
• Eating just two meals a month of largemouth bass caught in the Limestone Creek embayment because of elevated levels of mercury. The specific location is beginning approximately 1 mile upstream of confluence with Tennessee River;
• Eating just two meals per month of largemouth bass caught in the Wheeler Reservoir at the Round Island Creek embayment because of elevated levels of mercury. The specific location is beginning 1.5 miles upstream of confluence with Tennessee River; and
• Eating just one meal per month of largemouth bass caught in the Wheeler Reservoir because of elevated levels of PFOS. The specific location is the mid-station, main river channel at Tennessee River, mile 296.
One meal of fish is equal to about a half-pound or 8 ounces of raw fish. That would be equal to about two decks of playing cards.
To view the report in its entirety, visit https://bit.ly/2Jg3Nbj.