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Ozarks’ Anglers Advised of Fish Contaminants

For fishing enthusiasts, grilling, baking, or frying the catch of the day can be the most rewarding part of fishing. But according to an advisory released by the state health department last week, certain fish from Missouri’s waterways contain elevated amounts of contaminants. KSMU’s Brett Moser reports.

According to the Missouri Health Department’s fish consumption advisory, elevated levels of contaminants such as PCBs, mercury, and lead were found in particular bodies of water across the state.

Jonathan Garoutte is an environmental specialist with the Missouri Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology. He says anglers in southwest Missouri should be aware that there’s an advisory in the area.

He says, "There's one specific advisory on Turkey Creek in Jasper County. That advisory is specifically for buffalo species greater than 21 inches. All consumers should eat no more than one a week."

Garoutte adds that all Missourians should limit consumption of the following fish they catch to one meal a month: walleye, largemouth bass, spotted bass, and smallmouth bass. He says that’s if the fish measure greater than 12 inches.

He says the fish advisory also outlines certain cleaning and preparation methods to reduce the amount of contaminants.

Garoutte says, "Some contaminants concentrate in fatty tissues or some other in the bone. If you filet the fish, remove the skin and fatty portions, this is the best way to keep the contaminant levels as low as possible."

Garoutte points out that almost all fish, even store bought, contain small amounts of chemical contaminants.

He says, "I truly hope the outcome of our fish advisory every year is not to scare people away from eating fish. There are many known benefits to eating fish. For most people, the benefits outweigh the potential for risk."

For more information on how to protect yourself from contaminants, as well as a full rundown of state advisories, you can visit the fish advisory website: dhss.mo.gov/fishadvisory.

For KSMU News, I’m Brett Moser