Kansas Issues Fish Warnings for Mercury, PCBs, Perchlorate

Kansas has issued fish consumption advisories for 2007 that set guidelines for mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs, in fish, perchlorate in fish and other aquatic life, and lead and cadmium in shellfish.

With the advisories, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks identify species of fish that should be eaten in limited quantities, or in some cases, avoided altogether because of contamination found in tested fish.

Kansas recommends not eating specified fish or aquatic life from the Kansas River from Lawrence, below Bowersock Dam, downstream to Eudora at the confluence of the Wakarusa River for bottom-feeding fish because of PCB levels. Bottom-feeding fish include carp, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, freshwater drum, bullheads, sturgeons, buffalos, carpsuckers and other sucker species.

People should not eat any form of aquatic life from Horseshoe Lake located in units 22 and 23 of the Mined Lands Wildlife Area because of high levels of perchlorate, a chemical used in explosives.

Shellfish such as mussels, clams, and crayfish should not be eaten from the Spring River from the confluence of Center Creek to the Kansas-Oklahoma border because of lead and cadmium levels.

Lead and cadmium levels in Shoal Creek from the Missouri-Kansas border to Empire Lake are also too high for shellfish consumption, the agencies warn.

In addition, Kansas recommends a limit of one eight ounce serving per month, or 12 eight ounce servings per year, on the consumption of bottom-feeding fish due to PCBs in the Arkansas River from the Lincoln St. dam in Wichita downstream to the confluence with Cowskin Creek near Belle Plaine, and also from Cow Creek in Hutchinson and downstream to the confluence with the Arkansas River.

Due to the average levels of mercury, Kansas recommends a limit of one eight ounce serving per week for adults or one four ounce serving per week for children 12 years of age or younger of any species of fish from the Little Arkansas River from the Main Street Bridge immediately west of Valley Center to the confluence with the Arkansas River in Wichita, and also from the main stem of the Blue River from U.S. 69 Highway to the Kansas/Missouri state line.

Kansas counties with current fish consumption advisories include: Cherokee, Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Reno, Sedgwick and Sumner counties. Those that no longer have fish consumption advisories are Crawford, Lyon and Wyandotte counties.

In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a national fish consumption advisory for mercury which recommends eating no more than one eight ounce serving per week of locally caught fish.

Trend data from most Kansas long-term monitoring sites show a decrease in mercury and PCBs, the agencies said.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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