March 8, 2010
The Texas Department of State Health Services today issued an advisory
warning people to limit their consumption of flathead catfish, freshwater drum,
gar, largemouth bass, spotted bass and white bass from the Neches River in seven
counties in East Texas.
The advisory area encompasses a stretch of the Neches River and all
contiguous waters in Angelina, Hardin, Houston, Jasper, Polk, Trinity and Tyler
The advisory was issued after laboratory testing showed elevated levels of
mercury in fish samples from the six species taken from the river. Other
species, such as crappie, blue catfish, channel catfish and smallmouth buffalo,
were sampled and are not included in the advisory.
Adults should limit consumption of the six fish species from this stretch of
the Neches River to no more than two 8-ounce servings per month. Children under
12 years old should limit their consumption of these same fish to no more than
two 4-ounce servings per month. Women who are nursing, pregnant or who may
become pregnant should not consume the six fish species from this stretch of the
Regular ingestion of methylmercury, the mercury compound in the fish, can
harm the human brain and nervous system. Young children are especially at risk.
The brain and nervous system in a developing fetus can be permanently damaged if
the mother-to-be eats foods containing elevated levels of mercury during
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that gets into air and water from
the weathering of the earth's crust, from the burning of fossil fuels and from
some industrial discharges and emissions. Elevated levels of mercury in fish do
not pose a health risk for people swimming, fishing or participating in other
water recreation activities in the Neches River.
The Neches River flows through East Texas to its mouth on Sabine Lake near
(News Media Contact: Allison Lowery, DSHS Assistant
Press Officer, 512-458-7753.)
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