The Alabama Department of Public Health has released its 2016 fish consumption advisories, a list of recommendations on how much of certain species of fish caught in specific locations a person can safely eat without worrying about the presence of toxins like mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or perfluoralkyl sulfonate (PFOS).
The advisories are based on fish samples caught in Fall 2015 by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This year, ADPH considered data from 597 samples caught at 52 collection stations.
The samples were tested for potential toxins and advisories issued for specific species of fish caught in specific bodies of water. If multiple species of fish caught from the same location tested positive for high levels of a contaminant, the advisory was extended to all species.
Some of the advisories recommend limiting the amount of fish consumed to a certain number of meals per week, with each “meal” portion considered to be six ounces of cooked fish or eight ounces raw.
Mercury originates partially from natural causes and partially from pollution, especially the burning of fossil fuels. It accumulates in the muscle tissue of fish and humans when consumed.
PCBs come from common man-made compounds like electrical transformers and carbonless copy paper. Products using PCBs were banned in 1976, but still the compound persists because it does not break down easily in the environment. Since PCBs accumulate in fishes’ fatty tissue, cleaning the fish to remove fat deposits and cooking in a manner to allow the juices to drip off can reduce the amount consumed.
PFOS is an organic molecule that was phased out in 2002. Its health effects on humans are not well understood, but animal studies have raised concern. The compound also does not biodegrade well and thus accumulates in animals and humans over time.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a health advisory warning that long-term exposure through drinking water to PFOS and similar compound PFOA has been associated with health effects, including developmental impacts and certain types of cancer. Consuming fish is another way humans can accumulate those chemicals in their bodies.
The ADPH recommends that sensitive populations — women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding, and children under 14 — refrain from eating any king mackerel, shark, swordfish, or tilefish, and limit consumption of white tuna to 6 ounces per week. Those species carry high concentrations of mercury and other toxins which accumulate up the food chain.
You can see the full list of advisories below, and search for your favorite fishing spot. More information about the advisories and how they were created is available at the ADPH web site.
Information provided by Al.com