Mercury levels prompt warning to eat top-predator fish no more than once a month, other Ky. fish no more than once a week

They’re tasty, but among top predators, so eat just once a month.

All Kentuckians should limit consumption of fish from the state’s waters because they are too contaminated with mercury, according to the latest official advisories.

Previously, only children 6 or younger and women of childbearing age were advised to take care eating Kentucky fish. “State officials have found more fish in more waterways with higher levels of mercury, so they’ve tightened up their consumption warnings,” explains James Bruggers, environmental writer for The Courier-Journal. Mercury comes largely from coal-fired power plants; Kentucky gets about 90 percent of its electricity from coal.

“Contaminants, like mercury, can be harmful to the brain and nervous system if a person is exposed to too much of them,” Kathy Fowler, director of the Division of Public Health Protection and Safety, said in a news release. “We ask that Kentuckians be mindful of the kinds and amounts of fish they consume, particularly more sensitive populations such as infants, young children and pregnant women.”

The advisories are not as strong for panfish (bluegill, crappie, rock bass and sunfish) and bottom-feeders (buffalo, carp, most catfish, creek chub, drum, redhorse, sturgeon and sucker); as they are for top predators, where mercury can accumulate through the food chain. Those include bass, blue and flathead catfish, gar, muskie, sauger and walleye.

The general public is advised to eat no more than one meal per month of predatory fish and no more than one meal per week of panfish and bottom feeder fish. Sensitive populations (women of childbearing age and children 6 and younger) are advised to eat no more than six meals per year of predatory fish and no more than one meal per month of panfish and bottom feeder fish. A meal for a 150-pound person is considered to be 8 ounces. Here’s a chart:

Special advisories remain in effect for certain bodies of water that have been contaminated for years, such as the Mud River, ruined by polychlorinated biphenyls from the Rockwell International plant in Russellville. Here is that chart:

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