Mercury Warning in American Falls

January 25, 2006

As the saying goes, you can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit no matter how much mayonnaise you add. We're pretty sure that joke could also be crafted to apply to fish and mercury, but we're not quite sure how. In any event, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has issued a fish consumption advisory for the popular American Falls Reservoir, since the mercury levels in the reservoir are high enough to pose a threat to young and unborn children. Woman who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to get knocked up are advised to limit their consumption of American Falls catches to: no more than three 6-ounce meals per month of smallmouth or Utah sucker; six 6-ounce meals per month of Utah chub; or eight 6-ounce meals of trout per month. Children under 7 should not eat more than: one 4-ounce meal of smallmouth bass or Utah sucker; two 4-ounce meals of Utah chub; or four 4-ounce meals of trout. American Falls is the second largest reservoir in Idaho, and is annually stocked with over 8,000 trout by Idaho Power, who operates the hydroelectric dam on the southwest end of the reservoir.

For a link to a frightening EPA Web site about what mercury is, where it comes from and why you should avoid it, visit this story at www.boiseweekly.com. Here's a preview: Naturally, it is spread in the atmosphere from volcano eruptions, among other phenomena. The largest human-related sources of mercury pollution are coal-burning energy plants, like the one currently proposed to be built near Jerome, Idaho.

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