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Fish Advisories
North and South Carolina Issue Fish Consumption Advisories for Local Waters
Environmental health officials for both North and South Carolina say your water is safe to drink, but are recommending that people avoid eating two types of fish found in lakes along Mecklenburg’s western border.

Fish consumption advisories were issued today by the North Carolina Division of Public Health as well as the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The advisories affect channel catfish and largemouth bass. Officials are concerned that fish tissue samples show elevated levels of Polychorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury.

Important points for residents to remember:

  • The state’s fish consumption advisory is based on the monitoring of aquatic life; it is not a direct reflection on presence of PCBs in the water in the lake nor drinking water safety as it relates to PCBs.
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities tests for PCBs, both in raw water at the Mountain Island intake, and in treated drinking water. In fact, they test more often than is required and they have never found any detectable levels of PCB in either raw water or treated drinking water.     
  • Therefore, PCB levels detected as part of the state’s fish consumption advisory do not indicate any drinking water safety issue nor any issues with the lake water itself and should not be a cause for public concern in this regard.
  • PCBs bind to soils and sediments, but are less likely to attach themselves to water molecules. Small aquatic organisms absorb contaminants such as PCBs from the lake sediment. Those tiny organisms are eaten by small fish, which are eaten by larger fish.

North Carolina public health officials say elevated levels of PCBs have been found in channel catfish in Mountain Island Lake. South Carolina says high levels of PCBs have been found in largemouth bass in Lake Wylie and in the Catawba River south of Lake Wylie. PCB testing in largemouth bass from Mountain Island Lake was inconclusive. However, previous state studies have shown that largemouth bass in all waters of North Carolina have elevated levels of mercury.

   Mountain Island Lake:
      Channel catfish – everyone should avoid eating due to PCBs
      Largemouth bass – pregnant women and children under age 15 should avoid eating
      due to mercury
      – people over age 15 who are not pregnant should limit consumption to two meals
      per month
 Lake Wylie:
       Channel catfish – no restrictions
       Largemouth bass – no more than one meal per week due to PCBs

Catawba River south of Lake Wylie:
      Channel catfish – no restrictions
      Largemouth bass – no more than one meal per week due to PCBs  

North Carolina officials say the fish tissue sampling was only done in Mountain Island Lake. No sampling was done in Lake Norman. Officials say PCB levels in largemouth bass in Mountain Island Lake were within the acceptable range. A third fish species in Mountain Island Lake was also sampled. North Carolina officials say PCBs were not detected in red-ear sunfish.

PCBs may adversely impact the neurological development of children, and may damage the reproductive system, the immune system or cause cancer in people of any age. Mercury mostly affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, especially in unborn babies and young children. In higher doses, mercury also can have adverse affects on adults.

PCB and mercury contamination in the fish does not present a known health risk for people using the lakes or river for recreation such as swimming, wading or boating.

More information about the fish consumption advisories:
North Carolina:     South Carolina: 


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