Mercury Found In Fish In Tonto Creek

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Don’t eat fish caught in a 51-mile stretch of Tonto Creek between Bear Flat Campground and Roosevelt Lake, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, in association with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Arizona Department of Health Services warned Wednesday.

Tissue samples of fish caught here recently contain elevated levels of mercury.

Species infected include smallmouth and largemouth bass, green sunfish and black bullhead catfish.

Children under 6 should not consume common carp caught from this section. Those between 6 and 16 should limit consumption to one, eight-ounce fish serving per month and two, eight-ounce fish servings for all those over 16 years.

The advisory does not limit the consumption of trout taken from Tonto Creek or the use of this waterbody for fishing, bird watching, swimming or other recreational uses.

“Consuming fish contaminated with mercury is the most common method of human exposure to mercury,” said ADEQ Director Henry Darwin. “While we continue to work to reduce mercury pollution in Arizona’s waterbodies, these fish consumption advisories are an important part of our effort to protect public health.”

Mercury in the environment can come from various sources and can cause numerous health problems when ingested, most notably its toxicity to the central nervous system.

Infants and pregnant or nursing mothers are considered most at risk to possible health effects. Mercury is quickly absorbed by bacteria in sediments and passed along via the food chain to living organisms. Fish can accumulate elevated levels of mercury when larger fish consume smaller fish and insects that are contaminated.

In addition to Tonto Creek, fish consumption advisories remain in place for the following waterbodies in Arizona: Lake Pleasant, Roosevelt Lake, Arivaca Lake, Alamo Lake, Parker Canyon Lake, Upper Lake Mary, Lower Lake Mary, Lyman Lake, Pena Blanca Lake, Coors Lake, Soldier Lake, Soldier Annex Lake and Long Lake.

For more information, see ADEQ’s fish consumption advisory fact sheet http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/assessment/download/fish-0711.pdf.

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