NEW AWARENESS ABOUT MERCURY POLLUTION PROBLEM - Re-think Your Fish Menu From WV Streams

(05/13/2005)

By Bob Weaver

The Bureau for Public Health, Division of Natural Resources and Department of Environmental Protection have issued a fish consumption advisory related to the amount of Mercury in the Little Kanawha River.

If you're eating lots of fish out of the LK, you might want to re-think your menu.

There are numerous studies that Mercury contamination could cause a problem for individuals, particularly children, if too many fish from polluted streams are consumed.

Now, a new federal study has found that toxic emissions into West Virginia's air and water rose by almost 11 percent in 2003.

More than 83 million pounds of toxic chemicals were released by state power plants, steel mills and chemical factories, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA was quick to point out that this level of emission is within the legal standards.

A two-year WV study that sampled fish from 56 locations prompted state health, environmental and natural resource officials to issue a statewide advisory warning residents about possible mercury contamination from fish caught in state waterways.

The alert, which covers other contaminants, suggests how much fish can actually be eaten from a high risk stream.

Besides the Little Kanawha, sixteen other streams and lakes have been put on an advisory list for having contaminants and restricting the amount of fish consumed by anglers:

Flat Fork Creek, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)

Hughes River, Mercury

Kanawha River, down stream from Dunbar Dioxin, Mercury, PCBs

Kanawha River, up stream from Dunbar PCB

Meadow River, Mercury

Middle Island Creek, Mercury

Monongahela River, PCB

Potomac River, Dioxin

North Branch of Potomac River, Dioxin

North Fork of South Branch of Potomac, Mercury

South Fork of South Branch of Potomac, Mercury

Ohio River, entire length in W.Va. PCB, Mercury, Dioxin

R.D. Bailey Lake, PCS

Shenandoah River, PCB

Sleepy Creek Lake, Mercury

Wheeling Creek, Mercury

The Toxics Release Inventory began under a 1986 community right-to-know law. The biggest polluters in recent years have been hard-rock mining companies and electric utilities.

Parents groups, environmentalists and health officials are continuing to raise awareness about the mercury problem, and tests are being made available to check its presence in children.

Mercury in human bodies can cause some serious problems.

The Bush administration is proposing to support the construction of a few new power plants that produce a limited amount of Mercury pollution, but it could be years before enough earth-friendly plants will improve the environmental problem.


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