First posted on 08-14-2014
The Arkansas Department of Health is issuing a fish consumption advisory for Lake Ouachita. This advisory comes after fish from Lake Ouachita, collected by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and tested by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, were found to contain levels of mercury that have the potential to put human health at risk.
There are currently 20 bodies of water that are under a mercury in fish advisory in Arkansas. Nationally, all 50 states have fish consumption advisories due to mercury. This advisory is a notice about the mercury levels present in fish and the possible health effects on those who regularly eat fish from the lake.
This advisory only applies to those eating fish from Lake Ouachita and does not affect swimmers, skiers, boaters, catch and release activities, or other recreational uses of Lake Ouachita. This advisory does not limit the use of Lake Ouachita as a drinking water source.
Occasional fish consumers, such as vacationers and sport anglers, are at little risk for adverse health effects associated with mercury because their overall fish consumption is generally low and may come from many different locations. Those most at risk include sensitive populations, such as pregnant woman and small children, and people who frequently eat larger fish, such as bass, from Lake Ouachita.
The fish consumption advisory is as follows:
High risk groups such as women of childbearing age, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children six and under. People in this group should not eat largemouth bass that are 13 inches or longer, white bass 13 inches or longer or striped bass 25 inches or longer from Lake Ouachita.
People outside the high risk groups should not eat more than two meals per month of largemouth bass 13 inches or longer, white bass 13 inches or longer or striped bass 25 inches or longer from the lake.
Eating fish with mercury will not make people sick right away, but as you eat more and more, it can build up in the body and, over time, potentially cause adverse health effects.
The Arkansas Department of Health issues fish consumption advisories when enough data indicates elevated levels of mercury have been reached.
Fish is an important, low-fat source of protein. Knowing and following the fish consumption advisories allows you to safely keep fish as an important part of your diet.
For more information about fish consumption advisories in Arkansas, visit http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov and type ‘mercury’ in the Smart Search box located on the left hand side of the page. You may also visit http://www.agfc.com/mercury.
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