Mercury consumption warnings for fish in eastern Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Mercury consumption warnings for fish in eastern Iowa

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DUBUQUE AND JACKSON COUNTIES (KWWL) -- A warning out tonight for those who love to go fishing or eat fresh fish caught in eastern Iowa. The DNR has issued 14 mercury advisories in counties across the state.

In eastern Iowa that includes fish from at least one lake or river in Linn, Henry, Floyd, Mitchell, Winneshiek, Clayton, Dubuque, and Jackson counties. Click here for more detailed information on specific state warnings.

Mercury is found in almost any fish -- including kinds you get from the store -- but the levels generally aren't considered dangerous for most people in moderation. In Iowa, the latest advisories are for largemouth bass.

Mississippi river pool 12 -- between lock and dams 11 and 12 has been under a longstanding mercury advisory.

"We go out and collect the fish. Then, we filet them out just like any angler would, and that's what gets tested," DNR Fisheries Biologist Kirk Hansen said.

In Pool 12, DRN says walleye, sauger, white, large and small mouth bass, and northern pike should only be consumed in one meal per week because of the elevated levels of mercury found in the area.

"Predatory species. Mercury bioaccumulates in the environment, so the higher up on the food chain you go, the more concentrated it gets," Hansen said.

Mercury poisoning generally affects the liver or brain and nervous system.

"Insomnia sometimes, memory impairment. You're going to get parestesia, which is numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. You're also going to sometimes get pain and burning sensations," Dr. Howard Kim, medical director of Finley Occupational Health said.

Other symptoms include peeling skin, rapid heart beat, and heavy salivation or sweating. Any of these symptoms along with possible exposure should prompt a trip to the doctor or emergency room.

"A lot of the symptoms can be reversed. A lot of the effects of mercury poisoning can be reversed. If you don't treat it, it can cause irreversible damage, potentially death," Kim said.

Despite mercury dangers, doctors say fish isn't off limits.

"I wouldn't be terribly afraid to eat fish, as long as you eat it in moderation," Kim said.

Women who are nursing or pregnant and young children should take even more care. The FDA recommends avoiding shark, swordfish, king fish and mackeral and eating other fish in moderation. To see those guidelines, click here.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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