Health officials relax advisories on fish



YOUNGSTOWN -- Fish taken from Ohio waters are getting safer to eat if consumed in moderation, state officials say.
Although the Ohio Department of Health advises people not to consume channel catfish and carp taken from some state waters, fish such as smallmouth bass can be eaten once per week -- rather than once a month, as advised last year.
"The primary pollutant for Ohio's waterways are PCBs," said Randy Hertzer, health department spokesman.
PCBs were used in carbonless copying paper and as lubricants in electrical equipment until being banned in the 1970s for health risks.
Building up: The state health department says PCBs and mercury can build up in the body over years and can cause birth defects and mental and physical retardation in newborns. It can take the body about six years or more to rid itself of PCBs and up to one year to get rid of mercury.
For this reason, Hertzer said, women of child-bearing age and children under 6 should take the most precautions when eating game fish.
Hertzer said bottom-feeding fish such as carp and catfish are most susceptible to ingesting PCBs, which are not soluble and are heavier than water.
"We're much better at not polluting streams and waterways now," he said. "It just takes a long time for these pollutants to get out of the ecosystem."
Otherwise, he said, fish can be a nutritious meal.
No contact: Aside from offering advisories for fish consumption, the health department also advised people not to come in skin contact with two local water ways -- the Mahoning River, from N.W. Bridge Road, Warren, to the Pennsylvania Border, and Middle Fork Little Beaver Creek from state Route 14 at Allen Road to state Route 11, south of Lisbon.
Health department advisories are based on the combined efforts of Ohio Department of Natural Resources sampling and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency testing.

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