Health Department Issues Latest Health Advisories For Fish

Advice for Sports Anglers to Reduce Health Risks

ALBANY, June 4, 2003 - The State Health Department today released this year's guide for Health Advisories, Chemicals in Sportfish and Game. The 2003-04 Health Advisories include new changes for seven New York City reservoirs, Tupper Lake and the Hudson River, south of Catskill. The Department's annual Health Advisories provide advice for sports anglers and hunters about how to reduce exposure to chemical contaminants in some of the State's sportfish and game.

The Health Advisories only apply to recreational sportfish and do not apply to commercial fish sold in markets, where the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards apply. Data from the State Department of Environmental Conservation's fish and wildlife monitoring programs are used to develop the Health Advisories.

Specific advisories now apply to more than 80 New York water bodies and identify those sportfish that have elevated levels of chemical contaminants. A general advisory applies to sportfish taken from any fresh waters in the state and some marine waters at the mouth of the Hudson River. The general advice is to EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL (½ pound) of fish per week.

Special health advice for women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 to EAT NO sportfish applies to any water body where specific advisories have been issued. This health advice is based on findings that contaminants in sportfish may be a greater risk to a fetus or young child. Many of these contaminants may build up in women's bodies and be passed on in mother's milk. Women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 should EAT NO fish from the waters listed below.

New Advisories for New York City Reservoirs

New specific advisories have been added for seven New York City reservoirs, based on new data showing that certain fish species from these waters have mercury levels higher than the FDA marketplace standard for mercury in fish (1 part per million). Previous advisories for New York City reservoirs remain in effect.

Mercury can enter water bodies from a variety of sources, including run-off from the land and fallout from the air. The specific source of mercury in each of these reservoirs has not been determined. Accumulation of mercury in fish depends on complex physical, chemical and biological factors. Fish accumulate mercury from the food they eat and directly from the water. As a result, mercury concentrations are typically much higher in fish than in the water in which they live.

New York City's drinking water is regularly tested by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and meets New York State drinking water standards. DEP's most recent annual water quality statement indicates that mercury was not detected in water samples. Information about the New York City Reservoir System, including fishing access, is available from the DEP website at http://www.nyc.gov/dep or by calling 311 in New York City, if outside of New York City call 212-639-9675 (212-NEW-YORK).

Amawalk Reservoir (Westchester County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of both largemouth and smallmouth bass larger than 16 inches, based on elevated mercury levels.

Bog Brook Reservoir (Putnam County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of walleye larger than 21 inches, based on elevated mercury levels.

Cannonsville Reservoir (Delaware County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of yellow perch (all sizes), based on elevated mercury levels in yellow perch.

Diverting Reservoir (Putnam County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of walleye (all sizes), based on elevated mercury levels.

East Branch Reservoir (Putnam County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of walleye (all sizes), based on elevated mercury levels.

Titicus Reservoir (Westchester County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of white perch (all sizes) from the Titicus Reservoir, based on elevated mercury levels.

West Branch Reservoir (Putnam County) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of walleye (all sizes), based on elevated mercury levels.

New Advisory for Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake (Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties) - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of walleye (all sizes), based on elevated mercury levels.

New Advisory for the Hudson River

Hudson River from Bridge at Catskill South to and Including the Upper Bay of New York Harbor (north of Verrazano Narrows Bridge), Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull - EAT NO MORE THAN ONE MEAL PER MONTH of brown bullhead. This is based on new data showing that brown bullhead from the Hudson River south of Catskill have PCB levels higher than the FDA marketplace standard for PCBs in fish (2 parts per million). Previous advisories for these waters remain in effect.

The Health Advisories are published in the Fishing and Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guides issued annually by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The Health Advisories booklet and additional information can be obtained from the Health Department's web site at www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/fish/fish. or by calling the Department at 1-800-458-1158, extension 27815.