State EPA warns of unsafe mercury, PCB levels in some Humboldt Bay fish

EUREKA, Ca. (KIEM) – The California Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment have a number of warnings regarding mercury and PCB levels found in some Humboldt Bay fish species.

Their advisory specifically recommends that women or children eat no more than one serving a week of local lingcod, walleye surfperch, or pile perch.

They also warn that people of all ages should not eat any leopard shark from the Humboldt Bay.

Eating fish with higher mercury, or PCB levels can cause health problems, as the OEHHA explains:

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that is released into the environment from mining and burning coal. It accumulates in fish in the form of methylmercury, which can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in developing children and fetuses. Because of this, OEHHA provides a separate set of recommendations specifically for children up to age 17, and women of childbearing age (18-45 years).
PCBs are a group of industrial chemicals. At high levels of exposure, they can cause health problems, including cancer. Although they were banned in the United States in the late 1970s, PCBs persist in the environment from spills, leaks or improper disposal. PCBs accumulate in the skin, fat, and some internal organs of fish. In order to reduce exposure from PCB contaminated fish, OEHHA recommends eating only the skinless fillet (meat) portion of the fish.


To see the safe eating guide in full, click here.