Mercury prompts warning against eating Lake Gaston fish
Posted November 18, 2009 11:00 a.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2009 12:02 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina public health officials have issued a fish consumption advisory for walleye and largemouth bass in Lake Gaston after elevated levels of mercury were found in the fish.
The advisory recommends that pregnant women, nursing women, women who may become pregnant and children under age 15 avoid walleye and largemouth bass from Lake Gaston. Other people should not eat more than two meals a month of walleye or largemouth bass from Lake Gaston.
Mercury is a metal that occurs naturally in the environment and is also released into the environment during some manufacturing processes and when fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) are burned.
Most mercury pollution is released into the air and then falls directly into water bodies or onto land, where it can be washed into waterways. Levels of the metal build up within fish as they eat smaller aquatic organisms and fish.
There is an increased risk of adverse effects to the developing brain of the unborn babies when pregnant women eat fish contaminated with mercury. Young children may also be at risk of adverse neurological effects from eating fish contaminated with mercury.
The mercury contamination in the fish doesn't present a known health risk for anyone engaging in other recreational activities, such as touching the water, wading, swimming, boating, fishing or handling the fish.