The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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Warning about fish
State agencies have warned that eating too much fish from Lake Cumberland and certain other Kentucky lakes could be bad for your health.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), the Division of Water and the Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources issued fish consumption advisories for bodies of water in Kentucky.
John Williams, the district fisheries biologist for the Ky. F&W in this area said the warning may err on the side of caution, but said people need to pay attention.
He said the advisories are intended to warn people about the possible risks of eating a great deal of some species of fish from Lake Cumberland and other lakes in Kentucky.
He added that since the types of contamination noted in the report tend to increase with exposure the older, larger fish in each of the species warned about from this lake would be more heavily contaminated than smaller and therefore younger fish.
The advisories were issued due to elevated levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and mercury levels found in some species of fish sampled for these substances.
“Women of childbearing age, children and people who consume a lot of fish in their diet are more susceptible to the ill effects of contaminants sometimes found in fish,” said William Hacker, M.D., DPH commissioner. “For this reason these individuals should follow the special population advisory.”
The increasing mercury problem is not just a Kentucky problem they all pointed out. Hacker said many states are now discovering elevated mercury levels in fish tissue and are issuing fish consumption advisories to better inform the public of the potential risks of frequently eating fish associated with an advisory.
Guy Delius, the acting director of Health and Public Safety, said the most likely source of the contamination is coal-burning power plants out west.
He explained that the mercury in particular would be released from those plants and carried east by the wind until washed from the air by rain or snow.
Most of the advisories either continue or modify existing fish consumption advisories issued from previous years. However, this year, three bodies of water are being added to the advisory list because of elevated mercury levels. They include Lake Cumberland.
“This risk-based advisory system allows our citizens to have the information needed in making good nutrition decisions,” said Delius “Fish are fun to catch, and many people now practice catch and release, which helps ensure our lakes and rivers have good populations of larger, higher quality fish. If you decide to keep and eat your catch, just keep in mind the frequency for consumption.
“Fish are a nutritious, low-fat food and good for you when eaten in moderation,” said Benjy Kinman, director of fisheries for Fish and Wildlife. “Cooking may reduce some contaminants in fish, but will not reduce mercury levels.”
The following are consumption precautions for various tested species in these bodies of water. Typically, if a species is not listed, this does not necessarily mean these other fish species are risk-free to consumers. Rather, it means there may not be data available for that particular species.

Jeff Ross, the assistant director of fisheries said the mercury contamination in some fish at Lake Cumberland is not going to lead to any fish kills, was not made worse by lowering the lake and both he and district biologist Williams said they believe the advisory will have no impact on the number of people coming here to fish.
“Typically bass are a catch-and-release fish for most anglers,” Ross said. “I don’t think any of this will impact the number of people fishing in Lake Cumberland.”
He added that the amount of fish generally consumed by those who do bring their catch home from Lake Cumberland would usually be under the advisory limit.
That advisory for Lake Cumberland is considered to be a lake-wide advisory and will include the waters from the confluence of Laurel River and Cumberland River to the Wolf Creek Dam on Lake Cumberland.
Black Bass, mercury contamination yields a recommended intake for most individuals of 1 meal/month for those in a higher risk category such as children and pregnant women the limit is 6 meals/year.
Crappie/Rock Bass were also noted with mercury contamination and the consumption limits for them are 1 meal/week for most people and 1 meal/month for those at risk
Green River Lake
On Green River Lake the current advisory is for PCBs contamination and is lake-wide, listing channel catfish and common carp as “do not eat.”
The advisory for both PCBs and mercury is considered lake-wide from the headwaters of the lake to the dam. Due to decreasing levels of PCBs in the Green River Lake, the advisory is modified from “do not eat” to one meal per month for the general population and six meals per year for the sensitive population. Channel Catfish are being removed from the PCB advisory.
For the advisories on other Kentucky lakes see the agencies websites.
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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Phone: 270-866-3191
Fax: 270-866-3198
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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Jamestown KY 42629
Phone: 270-343-5700
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