Residents urged to limit amount of fish eaten from reservoir

- Health officials are urging Lafayette residents to limit the amount of fish they eat from the Lafayette Reservoir.

An advisory was issued today for residents and visitors planning to catch and eat fish from the Lafayette Reservoir, according to the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

The advisory was issued for people who want to eat rainbow trout, channel catfish, goldfish and black bass species from the reservoir at 3849 Mt. Diablo Blvd.

The advisory was issued because the four species of fish may contain mercury or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which can be harmful to people.

OEHHA director Lauren Zeise said in a statement, "By following our guidelines for fish caught at Lafayette Reservoir, people can safely eat fish low in chemical contaminants and enjoy the well-known health benefits of fish consumption."

The guidelines are based on tests health officials conducted of fish caught in the reservoir.

Women from 18 to 45 years old and children from one to 17 years old may eat five servings per week of rainbow trout or three servings per week of channel catfish or one serving of black bass species. The two groups should avoid eating goldfish, according to environmental health officials. Women 46 years old and older and men 18 and older may eat seven servings per week of channel catfish or five servings per week of rainbow trout or two servings per week of goldfish or black bass species. One serving is eight ounces before cooking the fish. Eight ounces of fish fillet is roughly the size and thickness of a person's hand. Children should eat smaller amounts, environmental health officials said. Developing children and fetuses are especially susceptible to the effects of mercury, which accumulates in fish as methylmercury and can cause brain and nervous system damage. Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and is released into the environment though mining and burning coal. Environmental health officials said PCBs can cause health problems, including cancer. PCBs are industrial chemicals that were banned in the U.S. in the 1970s but persist for years in the environment. PCBs may be found in the environment because of spills, leaks and improper disposal. Environmental health officials encourage people to eat only skinless portions of fish because PCBs accumulate in the skin, fat and some internal organs of fish. They said eating slightly more than the recommended amounts of fish is not likely to cause health troubles if it's done occasionally, such as on an annual vacation.

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