State Advises Limiting Utah Lake Catfish Consumption

State Advises Limiting Utah Lake Catfish Consumption

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Ed Yeates and Randall Jeppesen ReportingEating fish out of Utah Lake continues to be a bad idea.

Several state and federal agencies today issued an expanded warning on eating carp and catfish; especially for selected consumers.

In 2006, the Utah departments Health, Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, Wildlife Resources, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looked at what they considered "risky" samples taken from Utah Lake.

Utah Lake is certainly not one of the more pristine lakes around. A sampling a year ago and now again seems to confirm that.

Elevated samples of PCBs have triggered an expanded warning to those favoring carp or catfish fillets for dinner. Now, the recommendations are even more restrictive now than they were a year ago. Christina McNaughton, Utah Department of Health, says, "The original advisory they issued in 2006 allowed for one 8 ounce portion for an adult and a 4 ounce portion for a child.

State Advises Limiting Utah Lake Catfish Consumption

But now, adult consumers should not eat more than a 4 ounce carp meal per month. Children, pregnant women and women who can become pregnant should not eat them at all. McNaughton says, "Mothers can actually transfer PCBs from mother to fetus and also through breast milk."

The same restrictions now apply to channel catfish, and any tissue outside the fillet should not be eaten by anyone; this includes black bullhead, channel catfish, common carp, walleye and white bass.

"PCBs are much more difficult to rid in your system, and that's solely due to the fact that they partition to your fatty lipids in the body," says McNaughton.

State Advises Limiting Utah Lake Catfish Consumption

PCBs are oil liquids or solids made up of a mixture of 209 chlorinated compounds. They come not from natural sources but from man-made chemicals. Those who are trying hard to clean up Utah Lake and who still like to fish in the lake are angry. "It's just sad but how can we change in one day the whole habits of mankind -- polluting the oceans and waterways of the world," said Utah Lake fisherman Keith Morgan.

Utah Lake State Park Manager Ty Hunter says PCBs don't mix with water. They sink and attach to the sediment where catfish and carp eat them, so other fish are just fine.

He says the water is just fine for humans to swim in. "I'd rather swim here than in some of the pools with some of the stuff that we have going around," Hunter said.

Finding PCB in lakes has been a problem around the country.

So far, inspectors have not found mercury in Utah Lake. But they have found elevated samples in other lakes and bodies of water. That too is a growing concern.

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