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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Study: mercury contamination affects even fish in national parks

FISHING — National parks in the Western United States and Alaska are some of the most pristine landscapes and waters on the planet, yet results of a four year study indicate that mercury contamination affects fish even in these protected areas.

It's important to note that 96 percent of the affected fish had low levels of contamination and are considered safe for human consumption.

However, the National Park Service says:

Mercury has been discovered in fish in some of the most remote national park lakes and streams in the western United States and Alaska. Mercury levels in some fish exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health thresholds for potential impacts to fish, birds, and humans.

The information about mercury, and its appearance in 21 protected areas considered to be relatively pristine and removed from environmental contaminants, is in a recently published scientific report from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service.

Read on for more details from the NPS.

How mercury ends up on your plate

Check out this report about fish and mercury from the Blue Ocean Institute. The conclusion: "The answer isn’t to avoid seafood, it’s to avoid mercury. Particularly for pregnant or nursing women, as well as young children, the risks of mercury are significant enough to cut out high-mercury fish from their diet." Read more from Ecocentric.

High mercury levels found in lower Boise River catfish spark consumption advisory

The Idaho Division of Public Health has issued a fish advisory, warning that catfish caught in the lower Boise River have been found to have high levels of mercury, and pregnant women or children age 15 and younger should limit their consumption. Catfish often absorb more mercury than other species because of their diet, the division reports; the fish still can be eaten, but only in limited amounts. Most other fish species caught and tested in the Boise River have not shown high levels of mercury, though there is an existing statewide fish consumption advisory for bass due to mercury. Click below for the division's full announcement.

Are the fish safe to eat? Find out here

FISHING — Advisories for how much fish should be consumed from area waters that may be affected by mercury, PCBs or other contaminants are available in:

Idaho online or  (866) 240-3553.

Washington online or   (877) 485-7316.

These advisories are especially important for children and pregnant women.

KHQ: U-High Paper Column Offends Many

Some journalism students and a teacher are learning a hard lesson in ethics after printing racial and offensive language in their high school newspaper. It happened at University High School in the Central Valley School District. The latest edition of the school newspaper, The Mercury, was printed on Friday, April 9th. Random students were asked “If you could be famous for anything, what would you be famous for?” One sophomore wrote he wants to be famous for quote” Killing someone famous.” Others said “Mass murderer,” “Having an affair with the President,” “Dropping a nuke on the Middle East,” “Killing the President with a trident,” “Leader of the KKK” and “Being JFK’s assassin”/KHQ. More here. (KHQ Photo)

Question: Would you be offended by this provocative column? And/or: What would you like to be famous for?

Silver Creek fish OK to eat after all

The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare has lifted a mercury advisory for consuming fish from the famed Silver Creek area near Picabo, after it turned out that test results showing dangerous mercury levels in brown trout from the watershed were in error.  “This is one of Idaho’s premier sport fisheries and is good news for the Silver Creek watershed,” said Jim Vannoy, the environmental health program manager who oversees the Idaho Fish Advisory Program for Health & Welfare. “It was an unfortunate error, but the lab has assured us that they have implemented procedures to prevent this from happening again.” The error was a calculation error by an out-of-state analytical lab following a 2007 sampling of fish from the watershed; it was discovered when the latest test results showed a surprising drop in the mercury levels. Click below to read the full news release from Health & Welfare.
  

What lies beneath




















A press release from the EPA says fish with potentially harmful levels of mercury were found in 49 percent of lakes and reservoirs; polychlorinated biphenyls or pesticides were found in 17 percent. The study also points out burning coal and other fossil fuels account for almost half of man-made mercury emissions in the U.S., which contributed “significantly” to mercury in water. The EPA, and agencies working with, selected fish from 500 lakes and reservoirs randomly among an estimated 147,000 target bodies of water.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fishstudy 

More information on local fish advisories: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/states.htm

Full release after the jump.