Watch what you eat

Published 8:09 am Monday, August 7, 2006

By By MATTHEW NASCONE – special to the standard
Recent reports from the Alabama Department of Public Health indicate fish consumption advisories for many areas of Alabama.
Officials said concern about protecting the public from possible exposure to mercury from eating fish led to the issuance of several new fish consumption advisories for bodies of water in Alabama.
In the fall of 2005 officials with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management collected samples of fish species across the state for analysis and the issuances are a result of these tests. The health risk that occurred the most was the levels of mercury found in the fish.
Officials said beginning with the 2006 advisories the Department of Public Health adopted a contaminant level for mercury in fish that would protect those who eat more than one fish meal per week.
The new Environmental Protection Agency standards are four times more protective. This advisory will be represented as the safe number of meals of that fish that can be eaten in a given period of time, such as meals per week, meals per month or no consumption.
A meal portion consists of 6 ounces of cooked fish and 8 ounces of raw fish.
New advisories for 2006 include largemouth bass at Cedar Creek in Houston County, Bilbo Creek in Washington County, area in the vicinity of Lower Peachtree Access Area around mile 96 in Monroe and Clark counties, at Cowpen Creek in Baldwin County, Fish River in Baldwin County, Perdido River in Baldwin County, Polecat Creek in Baldwin County. Spotted bass and largemouth bass in the Escatawpa River in Mobile County are also on alert.
According to officials, the people most in risk of side effects from mercury poisoning are women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children under the age of 15. One way to minimize exposure in populations at risk is to reduce mercury derived from eating fish from contaminated water. These advisories are based on a stricter action level for mercury developed by the
EPA. Previously, the Food and Drug Administration guidelines were used for mercury advisories. The FDA level was based on eating one fish meal per week.
Advisories still in effect include largemouth bass in Big Escambia Creek, Blackwater Creek, Bon Secour River, Chickasaw Creek, Conecuh River, Fowl River, Mobile River, Opossum Creek, Styx River, Tensaw River, Valley Creek and the Yellow River.
Do not consume any fish from Choccolocco Creek or the Cold Creek Swamp.
Catfish larger than one pound from the Coosa River is also on the advisory list.
An advisory for striped bass from the Coosa River and Three Mile Creek is also in effect. Spotted bass from the Coosa River and Little Escambia Creek are listed in the advisory list.
King mackerel longer than 39 inches is under a no consumption advisory and king mackerel shorter than 39 inches is on a limited consumption warning for the entire Gulf Coast.
For more information on the fish advisories visit the Alabama Department of Public Health online at

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