New Ala. fish advisories: Some species should not be eaten

MONGOMERY, AL - The Alabama Department of Public Health is issuing new fish consumption advisories after determining numbers on mercury levels in 17 area bodies of water.

The quality of water, based on the levels of contaminants in fish from the waters in Alabama, generally continues improvements made in recent years, the ADPH said. ADPH annually updates fish consumption advisories based on data collected the preceding fall by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

ADEM collected samples of specific fish species for analysis from various water bodies throughout the state during the fall of 2009. ADPH assessed the results to determine whether any of the tested contaminants in the fish may give rise to potential human health effects.
Fish consumption advisories are issued for specific water bodies and specific species taken from those areas. In reservoirs, advisories apply to waters as far as a boat can be taken upstream in a tributary, that is, to full pool elevations.
Beginning with the 2007 advisories, ADPH adopted a contaminant level for mercury in fish that would protect those who might consider eating more than one fish meal per week. The new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards are four times more protective than Food and Drug Administration (FDA) levels previously used.
After the lower, more protective limit was adopted in 2007, an increasing number of water bodies around the state received advisories for mercury in fish as they were tested. Newly issued advisories will be represented as the safe number of meals of that species of 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 or 8 ounces of raw fish.
The ADPH reminds Alabamians that all advisories previously issued using FDA guidelines remain in effect for 2010 and other advisories have been updated to reflect the EPA consumption levels for mercury-contaminated fish.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Alabama Department of Public Health