Fish from Pollmiller Park Lake Exceed Mercury Advisory Level

Written by Theresa Rose on June 30, 2015

DES MOINES – Based on results of annual fish contaminant monitoring, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed the presence of mercury above consumption advisory levels in largemouth bass from Pollmiller Park Lake at West Point in Lee County.

The DNR and the Iowa Department of Public Health (DPH) recommend that individuals should consume no more than one meal (6 to 7 ounces) per week of largemouth bass caught from this lake. This advisory is added to a similar advisory that was issued in 2013 due to mercury levels in muscle tissue from snapping turtles taken from this lake. The DNR and DPH continue to recommend that no more than one meal (6 to 7 ounces) per week of snapping turtle muscle from this lake be consumed. Further, DNR and DPH continue to recommend that turtle fat not be consumed because contaminants can reach higher levels in this type of tissue. Limiting consumption to no more than one meal per week of largemouth bass or snapping turtle is considered protective of human health.

The complete list of Iowa’s fish consumption advisories is available online at www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/WaterQuality/WaterMonitoring/MonitoringPrograms/FishTissueMonitoring.aspx.

Mercury is a naturally-occurring substance that is discharged to the environment through industrial processes and through combustion of coal used for generation of electricity. Fish and other aquatic life accumulate mercury in their muscle tissue through feeding. Prolonged and regular consumption of fish with very high levels of mercury can lead to neurological disorders such lack of coordination of movements and muscle weakness; impairments of speech, hearing, and walking. Fortunately, levels of mercury in Iowa fish do not approach the levels that would cause these types of health problems.

Due to potential health impacts, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Iowa DNR & DPH recommend that pregnant and nursing women, those planning to become pregnant, and children 12 years or younger limit their consumption to one meal per week of all larger size predator fish, such as walleye and bass. Predator fish are more likely to have higher concentrations of mercury. Consumption of panfish, such as bluegill, redear, and crappie by these higher risk individuals is considered safe unless otherwise posted.

Fish are part of a healthy diet. For information on the benefits of eating fish or what types of fish are safe to eat, visit the DPH’s webpage at

http://www.idph.state.ia.us/eh/common/pdf/env/fish_health_issues.pdf