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State Environmental Health Services Issues Mercury Advisory For Some Del Valle Fish Species


SACRAMENTO – An updated state fish advisory issued today provides safe eating advice for black bass species, Channel Catfish, Inland Silverside, Striped Bass, sunfish species, and Threadfin Shad from Lake Del Valle in Alameda County.

The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) developed the recommendations based on the levels of mercury found in fish caught from this lake.

“Many fish have nutrients that may reduce the risk of heart disease and are an excellent source of protein,” said Dr. Lauren Zeise, director of OEHHA. “By following our guidelines for fish caught at Lake Del Valle, people can safely eat fish low in chemical contaminants and enjoy the well-known health benefits of fish consumption.”

Lake Del Valle, also known as Del Valle Reservoir, is five miles long and has 16 miles of shoreline. It is located within Del Valle Regional Park in Alameda County, approximately 10 miles south of the city of Livermore.

When consuming fish from Lake Del Valle, women ages 18-45 and children ages 1-17 should not eat black bass species or Striped Bass. They may safely eat a maximum of two servings per week of Inland Silverside, or one serving per week of Channel Catfish, sunfish species, or Threadfin Shad.

Women ages 46 and older and men ages 18 and older may safely eat a maximum of seven servings per week of Inland Silverside, or four servings per week of Threadfin Shad, or three servings per week of sunfish species, or two servings per week of Channel Catfish, or one serving per week of black bass species or Striped Bass.

The previous advisory for the lake was originally issued in 2004 and included advice for Channel Catfish, sunfish species, and black bass species. The new update adds advice for Inland Silverside, Striped Bass, and Threadfin Shad.

One serving is an eight-ounce fish fillet, measured prior to cooking, which is roughly the size and thickness of your hand. Children should be given smaller servings.

For fish species found in Lake Del Valle that are not included in this advisory, OEHHA recommends following the statewide advisory for eating fish from California’s lakes and reservoirs without site-specific advice.

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that is released into the environment from mining and burning coal. It accumulates in fish in the form of methylmercury, which can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in developing children and fetuses. Because of this, OEHHA provides a separate set of recommendations specifically for children up to age 17, and women of childbearing age (18-45 years).

Eating fish in amounts slightly greater than the advisory’s recommendations is not likely to cause health problems if it is done occasionally, such as eating fish caught during an annual vacation.

The Lake Del Valle advisory recommendations join 100 other OEHHA advisories that provide site-specific, health-based fish consumption advice for many of the places where people catch and eat fish in California, including lakes, rivers, bays, reservoirs, and the California coast.

The health advisory and eating advice for Lake Del Valle – as well as eating guidelines for other fish species and California bodies of water – are available on OEHHA’s Fish Advisories webpage: http://www.oehha.ca.gov/fish/advisories. Poster versions of fish consumption advice are also available in both English and Spanish on the individual advisory pages.

OEHHA is the primary state entity for the assessment of risks posed by chemical contaminants in the environment. Its mission is to protect and enhance public health and the environment by scientific evaluation of risks posed by hazardous substances.

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