POSTED: Monday, January 27, 2014 - 12:49pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 8:05pm
Tyler, Texas (KETK) — The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a fish consumption advisory for portions of the Neches River Basin, including Sam Rayburn Reservoir and B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir. The advisory covers six species of fish caught between the State Highway 7 bridge west of Lufkin downstream to the U.S. Highway 96 bridge near Evadale and both reservoirs. It was issued after laboratory testing of fish samples found elevated levels of mercury and dioxins.
DSHS recommends people limit or avoid consumption of these species as outlined in the table below because eating contaminated fish can be a health hazard.
DSHS recommends children under 12 and women who are nursing, pregnant or who may become pregnant avoid eating the affected species because the nervous systems of unborn and young children are particularly susceptible to the health effects of toxins. Previous advisories for the Neches River area based on high mercury levels had recommended children limit consumption of particular fish. Recent testing prompted DSHS to recommend children under 12 not eat the affected fish at all.
According to DSHS spokesperson Chris Van Deusen, it takes years for mercury and dioxin to accumulate to these levels in the fish. Mercury and dioxins occur organically and as pollutants.
Van Deusen also said that unless future test show different results, the recommended ban on consumption of these species of fish from the Neches River would likely be in effect for over five years. DSHS also said there is signage for the public in these areas of the Neches River stating this advisory to avoid consumption of these species of fish.
The advisory states that elevated levels of mercury and dioxins in fish do not pose a health risk for people swimming or participating in other water recreational activities.
Michael Banks, co-chair of Friends of the Neches River, urges everyone to adhere to the advisory. Banks says Friends of the Neches River will continue to monitor the health and conditions of the Neches River.
Elevated levels of mercury and dioxins in fish do not pose a health risk for people swimming or participating in other water recreation activities.